When Kevin Even began as Waunakee Village Engineer and Public Works Director in 1994, the village’s population was about 6,200. Waunakee had just one stoplight at Division and Main streets.
He had come from the City of Cedarburg, where he was the assistant to the engineer.
“I think there was not a single trail in the village when I started,” Even said. Cedarburg, an affluent community, had many paths.
So when the village planned to build a sidewalk on Division Street, Even suggested an 8-foot asphalt path instead that would be easier to plow. Today, it is one of many paths throughout the village, including a system spanning from Woodland Drive in Waunakee to Hwy. M in Westport.
Even is retiring as of May 28, though he has promised to make himself available as a resource to the new engineer when that person comes on board. He leaves a village that has tripled in population, added perhaps a dozen new neighborhoods, along with new parks, trail systems and streets, all of which Even helped to plan.
Asked what projects he is proudest of, Even said the Main Street reconstruction. With federal funds slated for the project, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) planned a four-lane road, eliminating on-street parking, to improve traffic flow.
Even said he, with other village officials, negotiated with the DOT to reconstruct it instead as two lanes, guaranteeing it would remain so until the next reconstruction is needed.
“It was satisfying because we were able to prevent four lanes of traffic down Main Street,” he added.
He’s also proud of the corridor entering Waunakee from the south at Hwy. Q, calling it a “high quality subdivision and business expansion.”
During Even’s tenure, the Waunakee area was most impacted by the creation of a boundary agreement with the Town of Westport in the late 1990s, Even said. He was part of the team that drew the boundaries as Waunakee and Westport set up extraterritorial areas with a joint plan commission to prevent Madison from annexing portions of the town. This helped to preserve Westport’s unique, rural character. Westport has a similar boundary agreement with Middleton.
Had Madison grown into the town, the municipalities would have blended together, Even said.
“I feel very fortunate to have been here this long and to have been part of something that’s so great,” Even said.
But his true legacy can be seen in his children, Even said, adding he, too, grew up in Waunakee. He was single when he moved to the village. Today, he and his wife Leslie have two twin boys and a daughter, who attended Waunakee schools, are all college graduates, and are now making their way in the world. He said they have a bright future because of their experience in the village and school district.
“To have kids having that opportunity to live here and grow up here, that’s my legacy,” Even said.
Even called the village’s future somewhat “murky,” noting that social media has caused a divide. A small group of people seem to have a bigger influence, and a lawsuit filed against the village by T. Wall Enterprises weakened trust in leadership and administration, Even said. He also sees a greater divide between the school district and the village that never existed prior.
Even plans to continue consulting for the Town of Westport, where he also provides engineering services.
“I’ve really enjoyed that. I’ve really enjoyed working with Tom [Wilson],” Even said about the town’s administrator, attorney, clerk-treasurer. “He knows all the details. He’s such a great leader.”
Even also consults on specialized construction projects using helical piles, allowing for deep foundation systems for boardwalks and other structures in poor soils, and will continue that work.
Leslie Even has been working remotely, and the two are building a home in Sarasota, Florida. They plan to keep their Town of Westport home and spend about 6 months of the year in Florida, Even said.
“I won’t miss winters here,” Even said