Sidewalk panel takes first step

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Thursday, May 24, 2012
— The consensus of the city's new sidewalk committee is to make its decisions by consensus.

The committee established that during its inaugural meeting Wednesday.

The Janesville City Council has charged the committee with studying a seven-year sidewalk plan to build 63 miles of sidewalk in existing neighborhoods. The plan was approved in 2008 to close gaps, improve safety and create a network of sidewalk to schools and facilities, especially for children and handicapped people. It was then delayed for two years.

Residents on this year's plan who were being forced to build sidewalk rallied neighbors and convinced newer council members to take a second look at the plan.

Each council member and City Manager Eric Levitt nominated one committee member. Levitt said he suggested an even number of members because he didn't think a close vote would put the sidewalk issue to rest.

The current plan was created using neighborhood plans approved over the decades. Levitt said staff could have added connecting segments between neighborhoods that weren't originally on the plan.

Levitt recommended the committee create its own criteria and put it up against the current plan to see how the two match up. He gave committee members samples of criteria used in other places.

The committee is to report back to the council on the 2012 program on Monday, July 9.

Chairwoman Carol Tidwell said consensus decision-making uses "disagreement as an opportunity to understand each other better." Its goal is to find common ground that most people can live with.

The committee next is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 31, and Monday, June 4. The meetings are open to the public, but members of the public will not be able to speak.

Members of the committee are:

-- Dave Hyde, a blind resident who is president of the local National Federation of the Blind.

-- Dan Warden, a resident who falls under the 2012 sidewalk program and member of the Committee for Sensible Sidewalks.

-- Bob Yeomans, a businessman and former plan commission member who has spoken against sidewalks in the past.

-- Scott Bever, a worker at Marklein Builders and member of the Committee for Sensible Sidewalks.

-- Tidwell, a former attorney who also works as an arbitrator and mediator.

-- Chuck Behm, a retired Rock County Sheriff's Office sergeant who has favored sidewalks in the past.

-- Tom McDonald, a former councilman whose votes on sidewalk have been mixed.

-- Ed Madere, a member of the Wisconsin City/County Management Association and the Janesville Plan Commission.

-- Councilmen Russ Steeber and Sam Liebert, the former who has voted in favor of the sidewalk plan and the latter who has voted against the plan.

Last updated: 8:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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