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Neighbors set to raise concerns over Tess Corners Drive path

Muskego officials tackle issue April 24

April 15, 2012

Muskego - With residents protesting about the loss of trees and the loss of sometimes large parts of their front yards because of a planned recreation path, the Muskego Common Council will take another look at the path April 24.

It is planned as an off-road path along Tess Corners Drive between Janesville and Woods roads. A petition protesting the path and signed by 34 people along that stretch was submitted to City Hall.

Although the loss of trees is their major concern, it's difficult to tell in some cases whether trees would be taken for the path or the Tess Corners Drive road and drainage project, David Simpson, Department of Public Works director has said.

To try to get a read on whether residents really are against the path or if the path has many supporters as officials suspect, the city will invite everyone who lives along the planned path to the April 24 Common Council meeting.

At that time the council also will see if there are affordable options that might keep the path further from homes and save trees. Officials are worried that the delay might mean there will not be time to do the project this year. The city had planned to go out for bids more than a week ago.

Christine Nelson who spearheaded the petition drive against the path, told the council last week, "Some of the trees are hundreds of years old and add to the charm of the city."

Value, safety concerns

She also said home values have already plummeted and taking trees away from homes could reduce values even more. Not only that she said, the path would come so close to some homes that it would give an excuse for strangers to be on homeowners' property anytime day or night. The path raises another safety hazard, Nelson said, because it would take children on bikes right past the Tess Corners Fire Station where they might be in the line of the volunteers who race to the station to answer emergency calls.

Finally Nelson called the cost of the path astronomical compared to the number of people it would serve. She doubts many would actually use the path. Dropping the path would save an estimated $50,000.

Agreeing that the path would not have heavy use, Alderman Kert Harenda suggested getting alternative bids on having a 4-foot or a 6-foot wide path. Those are among the options the council will consider.

But some were skeptical already.

Even a 6-foot path would be pretty much a walking path, said Alderman Dan Soltysiak. Bicycles would probably be forced back onto the road, he said.

Bad precedent?

There also was some feeling that these concerns should have been raised at the Dec. 14 public meeting on the project. Making last-minute changes because residents protest at the eleventh hour could set a bad precedent, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti said.

Several of the 20 or so residents at the meeting said they had attended that meeting. But one said she didn't feel they were welcome to object to the plans. Others did object, however, and the city tried to find solutions, Chiaverotti said. For example, a hedge of lilac bushes was saved.

Neighborhoods losing trees is a systemic problem as the city completes its recreational trail that has to go through long-established neighborhoods, said Alderman Neil Borgman. The trail system encompasses lots of roads with lots of trees on them but all are in the city right-of-way, he said.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Muskego Common Council reconsideration of the Tess Corners Drive recreation path

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 24

WHERE: Muskego City Hall, S8200 Racine Ave.

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