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Janesville City Council nixes most of proposed sidewalks

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
April 13, 2010
— Janesville City Council member George Brunner said Monday the council should consider an ordinance allowing residents who have sidewalks to take them out.

He said it’s only fair since some residents are required to have sidewalks while other aren’t.


Brunner made the comment after the majority of council members voted against most of a proposed 2010 sidewalk program that would have built about 1˝ miles.


Despite the vote, all council members insisted they favor sidewalks.


Those who voted against all the proposed sidewalks Monday were Bill Truman, Kathy Voskuil and Frank Perotto. Voting most consistently for sidewalks were Brunner and Russ Steeber. Tom McDonald’s and Yuri Rashkin’s voting was mixed.


Most of the sidewalk requested this year was sought by residents involved in Janesville’s Safe Routes to School plan. Ironically, the only stretches approved were along Rotamer Road, which were requested by the Milton School District.


The council has wrestled with sidewalks for years because some residents are required to have them and some aren’t.


In 2008, the council approved a seven-year plan that would build nine miles of sidewalk—sidewalk that has been on the city’s comprehensive plan for years. The current council delayed implementing that plan, citing the economy.


The residents who packed council chambers Monday said they couldn’t afford them; that sidewalks are ugly and that they would require removing mature trees. They said children don’t walk down their streets. One woman said she never gets any trick-or-treaters, and others said the city promised them they’d never have sidewalks.


People who live on Waveland Road said Parker High School students already have sex on their lawns, deal drugs on their property and break into their garages. They said sidewalks would make those problems worse.


Three council members—Truman, Voskuil and Perrotto—voted consistently against the sidewalks.


“If we let some people go for economic reasons, why are we forcing other individuals tonight?” Truman said.


Said Perrotto: “Personally, I believe that the only satisfactory way of dealing with sidewalks is to make sure both sides of the street have sidewalks. Period.” Still, he voted against all sidewalks proposed Monday because he said he didn’t know which had merit and which didn’t.


Voskuil said she was concerned about the process that selected the streets on the program.


Steeber said it appears the current council is losing the will to implement the program approved by a past council.


“It will continue to be an issue every year for future councils until we take action and fill in the gaps.”


Brunner agreed.


“We have to decide, ‘Are we going to support what we approved in a pedestrian transportation plan, or are we going to be back to being wishy-washy?’”



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