Officials work to save trees with street widening
Delafield officials explain process for Milwaukee Street
City of Delafield - As planning progresses for the widening and resurfacing of a portion of Milwaukee Street - and with many residents still concerned of the fate of the trees along the street - the city engineer said further effort continues in preserving as many trees as possible.
"Our goal is to save as many trees as we can," said Mike Court, the city engineer from Yaggy Colby Associates, at a presentation of the revised plan at the Public Works Committee meeting last Wednesday. "If we don't have to take them down, we won't."
The number of trees planned to be removed in the revised project is 30 - compared to the 57 trees initially proposed.
The reduction Court said, comes partially with the City Council's decision in November to complete only one-third of the approximately three-quarter -mile-long project that was originally proposed. He also said about a half-dozen of the trees still slated to be cut down are already dead or are requested by homeowners to be removed. Some other trees are overcrowded in areas and will be thinned out, resulting in helping the health and growth of those remaining, he said.
According to the plan, the resurfacing and widening of Milwaukee Street will extend from Oneida Street, near the downtown business district, east to Nagawicka Street, at the entrance of Fireman's Park. The street will widen from 23 feet to 27 feet, allowing for three-foot bicycle lanes on both sides of the street shoulders. A sidewalk is also proposed to run along the south side of the street.
"We have tried to curve the sidewalk around as many trees as we can," Court said.
Some residents, since the project began, have expressed concerns that the curb and gutter for a storm sewer system, which is still proposed from about Bleeker Street to Oak Street - or a roughly 600-foot stretch of Milwaukee Street - would damage the roots of the existing mature tree roots, causing the trees to slowly die and disrupt drainage. Other opponents assert that the storm sewer installation will divert drainage, allowing for polluted runoff into nearby Lake Nagawicka.
Court said, however, that the design plans for the curb and gutter should actually lessen the impact on the trees, helping to maintain the existing more slight grading slope surrounding them and decreasing drainage disruption. Several catch basins, he said, will allow for siltation and sediments to be removed before entering the lake.
The proposed drainage for the rest of the street will remain a ditch-andculvert system, Court said. A storm water retention pond is also planned near the northwest corner of Fireman's Park, he said.
Court called the plan difficult, but a "healthy compromise." The street project, he said, will improve the street condition and make the road safer for pedestrians - which has been the Common Council's primary intent - while sacrificing some trees, but finding the potential to keep others, in the process. Ten thousand dollars will also be dedicated for new tree planting along the street, he said.
Residents continue to post opposition to the project on a citizen group blog, blacktopparadise.blogspot.com - where they have described the project as an "environmental, cultural and taxpayer disaster."
The project cost was initially $900,000, and to come from the city's 2013 capital budget. The current cost - with the revised, shorter construction plan - is expected to be about half that amount.
Public Works Director Tom Hafner said continuing the resurfacing and widening of Milwaukee Street past Fireman's Park to Main Street - as originally planned - may be revisited in the next three to four years when addressing the condition of the road at that time. Currently, he said, any definite plans are uncertain.
Milwaukee Street resident, Jim Buege, who lives a few properties west of Main Street, said he hasn't felt any relief with the truncated construction plan. From the beginning, Buege has questioned the street's proposed new sidewalk since the existing Lake Country Recreation Trail already brings pedestrians safely to the park from downtown already.
Buege also questions why the revised plan has the proposed sidewalk continuing through Fireman's Park from the west and abruptly ending on the eastern property edge, if it isn't still planned to be continued.
The Common Council, Buege added, could easily decide to continue forward with the project as early as next year - and a nearly 250-year-old white oak tree, which stands a few feet from Milwaukee Street in his front yard - could be in jeopardy once more
The current plan is expected to return to the Public Works Committee for review and revisions on Feb. 6. Construction could begin in June and be completed in September.
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