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Pathway on north side of Juneau favored

May 16, 2012

The disagreement among Elm Grove residents surrounding the proposed Juneau pathway was not shared by village officials as the Elm Grove Public Safety Committee unanimously recommended a plan to put pathways along the north side of Juneau Boulevard.

While creating a one-way pedestrian mall apparently appealed to some on the commission, emergency personnel expressed grave concerns over the safety of closing off one of only two internal streets running east-west.

That was enough to swing the balance to a project that would put an off-road path on Juneau Boulevard on the north side of the street. Trustee and committee member Patty Kujawa said she had been intrigued by the pedestrian mall idea, which would make Juneau a one-way street with a lane strictly for pedestrian and biker use.

"I thought (the mall) would be a good option, but with safety at risk, I wouldn't want something to happen," she said.

Under the recommended plan, culverts would be built to create better drainage and signs would be erected to clearly mark driveways and improve safety.

Some concerns exist

Of the two major proposals considered, at least of two studied at the village's expense - another set of proposals were offered to the village that were paid for by community groups - it was the more expensive of the two, totaling an estimated $215,370, that was selected. The other proposal, which included pathways that crossed Juneau Boulevard, was about $20,000 cheaper, although cost did not appear to be a major consideration to the committee.

Tom Michalski, a village trustee and head of the committee, cited a recent survey that found 80 percent of residents were in favor of such pathways, and while he doesn't believe Juneau is particularly unsafe, he understands such a perception exists.

"I have a hard time labeling Juneau unsafe," he said. "The truth is, if we build it, they will come." While there haven't been any accidents involving pedestrians on Juneau, Michalski said, he believes the more people who use a potential pathway, the greater the chances are that such an accident will happen.

"There will be an accident and people will be quick to point the finger," he said, in reference to the numerous people who have opposed the pathways in favor of either no changes or the pedestrian mall.

Finally moving forward

Over the last 20 years, such pathway projects have come forward at various times, only to get caught up in the government process, whether intentionally or simply because they fell by the wayside.

Given that history, this particular legislative group has used countless studies and engineering examinations to bring forward this project.

The Elm Grove Village Board meets May 22 and could vote on this issue as early as that meeting. Any plan will have to get final approval by the board, and it's possible additional hearings could be held at the board level to supply feedback on this specific project.

Next step

WHAT: possible Village Board consideration of pathways proposal

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. May 22

WHERE: Village Hall, 13600 Juneau Blvd.

MORE INFO: View the proposal at ElmGroveWI.org.

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