Lake Geneva officials consider next steps for controversial South Street Trail expansion project | Local News
Payment of an invoice related to what has become a controversial trail extension project has been approved despite a request to stop payment.
Members of the Lake Geneva City Council Finance, Licensing and Regulation Committee approved payment of municipal bills totaling approximately $177,021 on July 5 by a 4-1 vote, Alderman Mary Jo Fesenmaier voting “no”.
Fesenmaier requested that a $3,200 payment to Strand Associates, Inc., engineers for the South Street Trail Extension Project, be waived until city officials address residents’ concerns about the project. .
City officials plan to extend the South Street Bike Path, which passes near Badger High School and Lake Geneva Middle School, by about 1.5 miles.
The trail is expected to lead to the future site of a new campus for the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA, located near the intersection of Highway H and Highway 120. The trail is also expected to extend west along along South Street and ending at Lake Shore Drive, leading to Big Foot Beach State Park.
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The City of Lake Geneva received an $835,316 Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to help fund the project.
Several residents who live along South Street have expressed concerns about the project, including tree removal, potential water runoff, possible traffic issues and the width of the footpath, which is expected to be 10 feet. .
City officials said the grant requires the trail to be 10 feet wide. However, the trail could be reduced to eight feet for short distances.
Fesenmaier requested that the payment to Strand Associates be removed from the bills and that the city suspend the project until residents’ concerns are resolved.
“I would like to take it down because we have an audience that continues to email us with concerns about this project,” Fesenmaier said. “I think we need to assure them that we’re taking a break to listen to their concerns and figure out what to do with those concerns and how we’re going to proceed.”
City administrator Dave Nord said the bill to Strand Associates had been submitted and the project could not be put on hold because the city council had not approved the move.
Nord said representatives from Vandewalle & Associates, the city’s planning firm, attempted to contact the state to determine what the consequences would be if the project was put on hold.
“Strand does a whole host of things other than worrying about sidewalk widths and things like that,” Nord said. “They have other things that they are required to do by contract, and that’s what they do. The council, no committee, no one made a motion to stop the project.
Fesenmaier said the project was to be discussed at the public works committee meeting on June 27, but it was not on the agenda and a special meeting was to be held to give residents opportunity to voice their concerns about the project, but the meeting was never scheduled.
“These things haven’t happened, so these bills need to stop until we’re all on the same page,” Fesenmaier said. “I don’t think the project should go ahead until we know what we’re going to do.”
Alderman John Halverson said the matter was not discussed at the public works committee meeting as there was no updated information regarding the project.
“It was nothing nefarious,” Halverson said.
Alderman Richard Hedlund said he would like to discuss the project further with the Department of Transport, but the city still has to pay its bill to Strand Associates.
“I agree that we need to have someone from the state here, but that has nothing to do with paying for services to the city when we haven’t told them to stop. “, Hedlund said. “I like your chat, but I don’t think we can’t afford them.”
After some discussion, Fesenmaier’s motion to withdraw payment to Strand Associates of the city’s bills failed by a vote of 2–3, with her and Halverson voting “yes”.
Nord said the city may schedule a meeting regarding the South Street Trail expansion project in August.