Proposed sidewalks (updated caption)

This graphic shows where sidewalks were proposed to be installed in the Hillcrest/Colby neighborhood in Poynette. After a split vote by the village board on Feb. 10, the project will not be moving forward at this time.

After receiving bids for a local sidewalk project, the Poynette Village Board was split on the decision to move forward with the installation.

During their meeting on Monday night, three trustees (Steve Mueller, Jerry Burke and Judainne Stronach) voted in favor of awarding a contract for the proposed Hillcrest/Colby subdivision sidewalk installation. Trustees Terri Fiore, Bill Boor and Chris Polzer voted against the motion, while Village President Diana Kaschinske, who resides in the neighborhood, abstained from the vote. As there was no majority, the vote failed and no further action regarding the proposed sidewalk project was taken.

The village originally budgeted $142,800 for the project to be completed this year. Plans were to install a four-foot concrete sidewalk on the east side of West Seward Street and part of the south side of Colby Boulevard and Sunset Drive. After the new year, new estimates approximated the project’s costs at $160,500, mostly due to the addition of a segment between Pearl Street and Main Street.

According to a memo provided to the board by Village Administrator Martin Shanks, the lowest bid, submitted by Concrete Service Company of Stoughton, for the sidewalk project was $134,652. There was only one other bid tendered, by Raymond P. Cattell, Inc., of Madison, which came in at $200,597.

With contingency and engineering costs included with the low bid, the sidewalk project would have cost the village $168,315. If trustees had voted to approve the contract and move forward with the plans, the board was set to consider special assessments for nearby property owners, which ranged from $1,778 to $5,304 (not including village parcels). However, since the vote failed due to a tie, the board did not go on to discuss special assessments.

During the Feb. 10 meeting, trustees also voted against moving forward on a related project to install an asphalt path running from the Poynette Dekorra Fire and EMS Department down to U.S. Highway 51. That plan was also included in the village’s 2020 budget, with $131,100 earmarked for it. The village again only received two construction bids for the asphalt path, with the lowest at $120,372 submitted by Concrete Service Company. Raymond P. Cattell, Inc.’s bid was $195,607.

The asphalt path project would have ultimately cost $150,465 with engineering and contingency expenses added in with the low bid. All seven trustees voted against awarding a contract and proceeding with the plan. Had the board approved it, trustees may have discussed potential special assessments for parcels along the path’s route. Most of those properties are owned by businesses. The preliminary special assessment roll had taxations ranging from $270 to $10,465 (not including village parcels).

Before the votes, some trustees voiced their thoughts on the projects, expressing concerns that property owners would be burdened by special assessments and questioning if there was a definite need for both developments to be completed this year. Polzer, who voted against both projects, said he was having a hard time weighing the pros and cons for each.

“Taxpayers have been hit with the referendum and now we’re going to go put sidewalks in,” Polzer said. “… I’m looking at what some of these assessments are going to come out as and I have problems with it. Looking at budgets and everything else, I’m really struggling with it.”

Polzer also said he was concerned for safety of students within the proposed project areas, due to the new elementary school’s location. He added that he was “almost to a point where the safest thing to do is to bus (students).”

Burke, who voted for the sidewalk project but against the North Street path, said if the village was trying to “make the numbers work” it should consider postponing the path installation.

“There’s good reason for having the path there, but if you’re going to order things on what’s important, it probably ends up being the one piece that we could look at not doing,” Burke said.

Kaschinske, who at a previous meeting questioned if the path down to Highway 51 was necessary, agreed that there is “good reason” for having it there as it’s “a dangerous area” for walkers, but still had concerns about if students would be utilizing the route. Trustees have anticipated that students coming from farther areas in the village, such as the Pauquette Pines neighborhood, would be bused to and from the new elementary school.

“The reason why I was opposed to it is because (students) are not coming from anywhere to walk that path,” Kaschinske said. “So because it is an expense, I don’t think we need to add that in, personally.”

After the two votes to approve the sidewalk and path projects failed, no further action was taken on either item. Two other major village projects scheduled for 2020 – the Park Street extension and Washington Street stormwater pipe replacement – were also recently bid out. Officials anticipate the board will review those bids and plans at its Feb. 24 meeting.

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