Janesville sidewalk committee facing July feedback deadline

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May 15, 2012
— A city council-appointed sidewalk committee has until the second week in July to weigh in on the 2012 sidewalk program, the second phase of a seven-year program.

The council opted to form the committee to study the sidewalk program, which a council in 2008 approved and another implemented in 2011. The goal was to build 63 miles of sidewalk to close gaps, increase safety and link neighborhoods to each other and to city facilities.

But residents who were told to install and pay for sidewalk in 2012 organized politically and convinced new council members DuWayne Severson and Jim Farrell to stop or at least study the sidewalk plan.

City Manager Eric Levitt suggested each council member appoint a resident with a goal of creating a 10-person committee with diverse views. Committee members include:

-- Scott Bever, appointed by Severson.

-- Tom McDonald, appointed by Matt Kealy.

-- Carol Tidwell, appointed by Farrell.

-- Robert Yeomans, appointed by Deb Dongarra-Adams.

-- Chas Behm, appointed by Russ Steeber.

-- David Hyde, appointed by Levitt.

Council President Kathy Voskuil also will appoint two city council members. The remaining two residents will be approved by the council at its next meeting as two possible members—asked by Voskuil and Sam Liebert—have not yet decided if they want to serve.

Voskuil wondered how the committee could incorporate and foster public feedback.

Levitt said the meetings would be open, but public input concerning the 2012 program likely would be limited because of the tight timeline.

Levitt said he doubts sidewalks could be installed this year, even with the July deadline.

The city already has signed agreements with a contractor to build sidewalk this year, and some residents might have done so, as well.

The council also asked the committee to give its recommendations on the 2013 program within 120 days and on the remaining four years of the program by March 2013.

Levitt said he believed it might be better if the committee looked at the remaining six years of the program all at once, but the council has already approved the timeline.

Other business

The Janesville City Council on Monday:

-- Gave the Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Team a break in fees the group has to pay to hold three events in Traxler Park this summer. The group does not meet council criteria set in policy to qualify for free use of city facilities. However, council members noted the events are expected to bring in more than $5 million to the community. In a 4-2 vote, the council gave the group a $1,450 break, in part to adhere to at least some of its policy and to cover some city—and taxpayer—cost. The original charge was $2,739. Council members Matt Kealy, Russ Steeber, Kathy Voskuil and Jim Farrell voted to reduce the fees while Deb Dongarra-Adams and DuWayne Severson preferred the group pay nothing. Sam Liebert was absent.

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