Council continues with sidewalk saga
JANESVILLE The Janesville City Council will send notices to homeowners affected by the planned construction of 8.4 miles of sidewalk, adopting the unanimous recommendations of a council-appointed sidewalk committee.
A public hearing for those residents will be Monday, Dec. 10.
The council also will send notices to homeowners who were on the list for sidewalks in 2013 but have since had their properties taken off the list.
Additionally, 3.4 miles of sidewalk on the list has been put on hold until council members can study them further. Those miles will be discussed again in March.
The committee members could not reach a consensus on those sidewalks, which came with committee rankings determined by specific criteria. A ranking above a certain cut-off point presumed sidewalk should be installed while a ranking below indicated they should not.
The sidewalk committee will begin meeting again in January to finish scrutinizing a seven-year program that the council halted until a committee could study it further.
Councilman and committee member Russ Steeber said the council would likely have to look at the remaining sidewalk on a street-by-street basis.
The committee, which was supposed to reach consensus on the sidewalk plan, could not do so.
The sidewalks still in limbo would likely require a majority vote rather than the consensus under which the committee operated, Steeber predicted.
Councilman DuWayne Severson asked whether the committee's recommendations could move away from a consensus model so council members could see the number of votes a specific sidewalk proposal received.
City Manager Eric Levitt said he asked for that at a recent committee meeting but, "by consensus, they agreed not to do that."
Levitt said he would go back to the committee to see if it would supply actual votes to the council. Most votes taken resulted in large majorities and small minorities, he said.
For example, the committee could not agree on how much sidewalk to build along Wuthering Hills Drive. Most committee members thought the entire street should have sidewalks on both sides to provide continuity, even though segments of the street ranked below the committee's criteria cut-off point.
Two committee members did not agree that segments ranking below the cut-off should have sidewalk installed.
Councilman and committee member Sam Liebert said he believed either that the entire street or none of the street should get a sidewalk. Otherwise, the council would create sidewalk gaps even as it tries to eliminate them, he said.
A number of residents spoke at the beginning of the meeting against being ordered to build sidewalk, including several who live along South River Road. The council still must decide on that street, which ranked above the cut-off point.
Resident Jim Fowler organized residents against the city's seven-year program, which now is in its second year. He and his group convinced council members to form the committee that now is studying the sidewalk program.
Fowler, who has been to all but one sidewalk committee meeting, said while the committee's recommendations might not be perfect, "it's the best compromise the city will consider."
He urged council members to study the remaining streets closely.