Big projects moving forward in Beaver Dam, including roads

May 9, 2019

A planned major reconstruction project of Roosevelt Drive in Beaver Dam could still see some sweeping changes.

Residents asked questions at a public meeting about the project at City Hall on Wednesday about a plan to remake the road and a small stretch of Warren Street with concrete, for which the Beaver Dam Common Council has appropriated $950,000. The construction would go from Park Avenue to Webster Street, which sees much traffic including to the hospital.

The city follows a guideline of “complete streets” for road projects to have transportation for all users, so the plan calls for sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides. Two options are officially on the table: one with sidewalks on both sides and parking on one side, or one with sidewalks on one side, with a crosswalk to alternate the sidewalk.

There will also be curb and gutter and new lighting. Only the storm sewer is being replaced. Even though many of the lots are steep, there would only be a retaining wall on the east side by Peace Lutheran Church if a sidewalk were placed there.

However, there are more options and nothing is finalized. Already neighbors have asked that there be a sidewalk only on the west side, by Wayland Academy, all the way down and parking on both sides in the area near the private school’s athletic fields.

Parking at Wayland is a major sticking point in the project: Dr. Eugene Swanson of Beaver Dam Eye Care said people will even park in his office’s lot during school events. Without a curb and sidewalk now, people parking their cars now will just pull into the grass near where there is a gravel path.

Residents along the street are concerned about how the construction work will approach their homes and anything they may have placed in the way. One woman said she has a brick path that would be in the way. Director of Engineering Richie Piltz said all the work will be within the city’s right-of-way of about 20 feet.

Ken Anderson, who lives on the street and is on the Common Council, said he will abstain from voting but has expressed disapproval.

“I personally don’t feel that we need sidewalks and a lot of the people on the road don’t want the sidewalks either — just because they bought their house; they haven’t had to deal with sidewalks,” he said. “It was kind of a selling point when I bought my house.”

He said the lack of sidewalks gave the neighborhood a unique, country feel and that they will come with additional responsibilities for residents like keeping them clear while taking away driveway space. He wondered about alternative options like marked walking areas in the street.

Exact costs to property owners for the Roosevelt Drive project are not yet available, but owners will receive the numbers when they are. There will be a special assessment hearing in the next month of so, and residents will be informed of when that is. The council’s Operations Committee will discuss the project at its May 20 meeting and make a decision on the final design.

For a time during construction, driveway access would be limited or non-existent, and residents would be provided with side street parking.

Also for roads, the council approved a $1.14 million contract to reconstruct Stone Street from Spring Street to Roedl Court in April. The project will involve replacing existing concrete and the entire water and sewer system. A hearing for that is to be determined.

On Monday, the council approved a $294,898 contract to repave the alley behind Front Street that runs between Center and Spring Streets, add lighting and create a parking lot at the site of a former dry cleaning business on Maple Avenue.

On May 13, there will be a special council meeting about the potential for a community development block grant for Haskell Street and South Spring Street.

The council has not taken recent concrete action yet on some other planned projects on the agenda for the year, like work on West Burnett Street and the intersection of Gateway Drive/Frances Lane/Corporate Drive, which had a design proposal approved. Two hundred thousand dollars was reallocated from use for a soccer park parking lot to being used to resurface portions of Madison Street and Walnut Street, but Mayor Becky Glewen said it’s been tough finding bids.

As for downtown, the council on Monday approved allowing the city to apply for an outdoor recreation matching grant toward a new bridge project. The proposed project, estimated at about $500,000, includes removing the old, crumbling retaining wall on the river, putting a path of the west side of the river and opening up the area for fishing and kayak use.

Piltz said that the project has been modified to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, swapping out steps with ramps.

The council already approved $181,000 in borrowing last year for the downtown project, with the concept of creating a full loop path around the river and the vision of a farmer’s market at the Watermark. Applying for the grant will save the city money, but pushes the project into next year. The project will come back to the council for further approval.

The project will come back to the council for further approval.