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Debated Janesville sidewalk plan to move forward, finally

By Margo Spann, mspann@wisctv.com
Published On: Mar 30 2013 12:53:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 30 2013 01:48:34 PM CDT

Channel3000.com

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

Janesville taxpayers will have to pay up as part of a plan to make the city more pedestrian friendly.

After several delays and complaints from homeowners who didn't want to foot the bill, the decision was made that sidewalks will be installed.

Both sides said they've come up with a plan everyone can live with.

"We think it's come to a successful conclusion; no process like that is perfect," said James Fowler, a member of the Committee for Sensible Sidewalks.

Fowler won't have to install sidewalks at his home but many others will. City leaders approved a seven-year plan, several years ago to install sidewalks to improve safety and connect areas of the city for pedestrians.

"We've identified where we need sidewalks as a community and where we don't and [we’ll] focus on what we really need to do,” said Janesville Councilman DuWayne Severson.

For the last year citizens have been protesting the plan, saying they didn't get a say in the project. A task force made of citizens and leaders created criteria to determine where sidewalks needed to be built.

"A bright and diligent committee worked very hard to try and sort out where sidewalks should be and where they aren't required and did the best they could to come up with a solution," Fowler said.

Severson said the committee met about 22 times and most -- approximately 60 percent -- of the sidewalks that had been up for discussion are still going to be put into place.

The city plans to put an updated map on its website to let homeowners know if they need sidewalks or not.

Both sides said they hope to create task forces for future city projects so residents don't feel like the city is walking over them.

"I think we're working toward a really good model moving forward," Severson said.

Fowler agreed.

"If they are dealt with as [successfully] as this was, that would be a good thing," he said.
The council will still have to decide how to handle future subdivisions built in the city.

Severson and Councilman Sam Liebert said that with several members up for re-election, that issue will likely be decided after the April election, when the new council is in place.

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