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Proposed recreational path in Muskego draws residents' ire

Petitioners object to rec path, as proposed

April 10, 2012

Muskego - Some residents object to a planned recreational path along part of Tess Corners Drive because of the loss of trees and because of how close it would come to their homes.

A petition signed by 34 people protesting a path between Woods and Janesville roads was to be discussed tonight by the Muskego Common Council.

In the nearly mile-long project, roughly 64 trees will be cut down, they noted. The residents want the path to either be moved away from the trees, narrowed or dropped.

Losing prized trees

Christine Nelson, who spearheaded the petition drive, said she will lose all four mature trees in her yard - one when Tess Corners Road is widened and the rest if the recreational path is built as planned.

The result will be devastating, she said.

"You can't replace a beautiful mature tree," she said.

The path would come within 35 feet of her front window, Nelson said.

"This is very traumatic," Nelson said, also noting that an elderly couple will lose a long line of lilac bushes.

Even the loss of one tree matters to some.

"We're probably only going to lose one tree," said Nancy Lietzau, "but it's my prize flowering crab tree that I've nurtured for the last 20 years."

Although her two huge pines are not targeted for cutting, she said she's worried about losing them also because they're close to the flowering crab.

Seeking alternatives

To neighbor Marilyn Meyer, "the most obnoxious part" of the path's proposed design is its width. "It's almost like putting in another road," she said.

Alderman Kert Harenda said Monday that he would ask the council to get alternative bids for a 6-foot or even a 4-foot path, giving the council more flexibility when it comes to choosing a contractor.

Lietzau said many of the petitioners simply want the path relocated so that it is roadside.

But David Simpson, DPW director, doubted that would save many trees and it would cost about $200,000 more. The additional cost is tied to subsoil work that would have to be done to support the weight of a car that pulls off the road beyond its shoulders, he said. The total project is currently estimated at $1.6 million.

Tied to public demands

An off-road path also would be safer and would meet the desires of several area residents who came to the Dec. 14 public information hearing.

"There was a lot of positive feedback from folks who are excited to have the path," Simpson said.

And it was area residents themselves who originally asked for a path six or seven years ago, said Craig Anderson, parks and recreation director. The Tess Corners path would be east leg of a three-sided loop with east and west legs going south from Janesville and both ending at Woods Road. The west leg is along Moorland Road.

Nelson wasn't buying the public argument.

"Baloney," said Nelson, who estimated that 90 percent of residents she encountered taking the petition around oppose the path. "It's just destroying yards."

And, she added, instead of enhancing safety the path would be a hazard because it goes past the Tess Corners fire station on Janesville Road, where the volunteer firefighters race as they respond to emergency calls.

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