The DeForest Village Board approved a resolution for President Judd Blau and Clerk LuAnn Leggett to execute a development agreement with the DeForest Area School District to extend Jefferson Street to North Towne Road.

The construction project was advised in the village’s Comprehensive Plan and Official Map.

Prior discussion with the board suggested a cost share on Jefferson Street, where the village pays the differential between the cost of a driveway as compared to a road, according to Director of Public Services Kelli Bialkowski. The project has been bid out and the difference for the village to contribute is $19,198.

The benefits to extending Jefferson Street beyond Bruns Street will improve the circulation of traffic not only to the high school, but the village as a whole. It would give students, parents and staff another access point to the high school.

The decision was approved by a 6-1, with trustee Bill Landgraf opposed.

Landgraf was concerned with the traffic in the adjacent residential area and questioned the value of the extended road to the community. He also voted no because other residents elsewhere in the village are concerned about flooding on their properties, and money should go toward find a solution for that.

“Let the school district take responsibility, not the village,” Landgraf said.

Trustee Jane Cahill-Wolfgram was in favor because it gives kids and parents an easier way in and out of the area, especially during athletic events.

Trustee Jason Kramar was in favor and is excited for the project because he had been advocating for it over the last 11 years. He feels it’s a win-win for both the school district and community.

The project would cut into the nearby homes on Renata Court. Residents of that area are concerned with how the addition would affect the stormwater runoff.

According to Craig Mathews, a project engineer with Vierbicher, “The stormwater overflow route that currently exists will be enhanced to combat large storms. The overflow elevations will also be maintained and a concrete waterway will be installed across the intersection with Bruns Street to improve drainage. Additionally, drainage from the athletic fields, and the extension, will be directed south, away from the swale. An overflow route is also being provided heading south along the east side of the high school.”

Plans were submitted for a wider road than what is planned for now. There will be no parking on the extension of Jefferson Street.

“The goal was to provide access via Jefferson Street to North Towne Road while minimizing the footprint of the roadway to maintain functionality of the swale as well as create space from the properties to the north,” Mathews said in response to questions brought up in the past. “With the narrow roadway footprint, there is not adequate room for parking.”

Planning consultant Mark Roffers added, “It was very intentional to not allow parking or stopping along the extension, and the narrower road widths contribute to this. Parking and stopping would negatively affect in-and-out visibility and safety. Also, even without parking along this stretch, the high school project will provide 690 total spaces, which is 163 additional parking spaces compared to today.”

A crosswalk would be provided from Bruns Street to the south. The crossing width of the new street is very narrow as compared to most village streets, according to Mathews.

“The narrow crossing width helps with pedestrian safety,” Roffers added.

Blau is in support and was asked if he still would be in favor if it was in his backyard, like the homes on Renata Court. Blau said yes, he still would be.

“It benefits the school, and highlights the school, making it easier to find,” Blau said.

Construction is set to begin next year, but the road would not be open to the public until 2022 due to other construction in the area, notably to the high school.

In other news, the board unanimously approved a temporary use agreement with Bullish Investments, LLC in regards to the land next to Sunfish Pond. Under the agreement, the village may store soils excavated from the dredging project of Sunfish Pond on site. The agreement takes any liability away from Bullish Investments and gives the village an opportunity to store the sediments for an extended period of time on the north and west sides of the pond.

Board to have village staff research effort, time in recording Zoom meetings

The board discussed creating a policy to record Zoom meetings and the potential to put them on Facebook and YouTube.

The idea was brought up by trustee Landgraf during the July 21 meeting after he’s seen what the Village of Waunakee has been doing with their board meetings. Landgraf noted that Waunakee posts its meetings on Facebook Live and later uploads the videos to its YouTube channel.

The plan would be permanent, not just a solution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the Village of DeForest chose the option, it would be at no extra cost. It also provides even more transparency between the board and DeForest residents.

“Yes, we meet the state requirements for meetings, but not everything is reflected in the minutes or agenda, like what is said,” Landgraf said. “I think it’s important for them (residents) to view the meetings and it engages the community.”

Trustee Abigail Lowery was in support because of the added transparency of government. Trustee Jason Kramer also said that in the interest of full transparency, it is important to provide this as another means of communication (with residents).

The issue of extra time and effort to post all meetings was brought up by Trustee Jane Cahill-Wolfgram, and the the current staff is not large enough to handle extra duties. A response to that was to have interns potentially take care of that.

Village President Judd Blau brought up the question of the comments section on YouTube and if board members answer comments, would that constitute a quorum. Comments can simply be turned off for all meetings, since they happen after the fact and are not able to be public record.

Landgraf said he brought this up to the board in 2002 and noted that the technology is now here in 2020.

A motion was made, and subsequently approved, to have staff do research on the topic, contact other municipalities and bring their findings back to the first board meeting of September.

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