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Fox Point’s $1.1 Million “Footbridge to Nowhere”

Fox Point resident, Larry Booth, gives his two-cents on the controversial Bridge Lane Ravine Footbridge.

At the same time the Village of Fox Point is talking about cutting back on essential services and infrastructure, the Village Board has authorized spending up to $1.1 million of taxpayer money to rebuild an unused and unneeded FOOTBRIDGE.

That $1.1 million price tag was 44 percent of the village’s ENTIRE 2012 capital budget. In other words, the board authorized spending nearly as much on a single footbridge as it has on all of the critical road, sanitary sewer and stormwater improvement projects in the village.

That enormous price tag is not the only problem with this project:

  1. The existing footbridge was built nearly a century ago to meet a need that no longer exists (to provide access to a long-gone country club north of the bridge).
  2. Only a handful of residents have ever used this footbridge (or ever will) because it’s in a very exclusive neighborhood east of Lake Drive --- at the end of a secluded dead-end street.
  3. Rebuilding the footbridge will do nothing to improve the livability of the village or the well-being of its residents. It will, in fact, have a negative impact on residents by increasing taxes and diverting scarce resources from much more important projects like roads and sewers.

And the $1.1 million is not the only cost to taxpayers. The village is paying two engineering firms $142,000 to develop proposals for the footbridge. Taxpayers are also paying interest on the $1.1 million loan equaling about $31,000 in the first year alone.

One of the most puzzling things about this project is the fact the Village Board has never taken a formal vote on whether spending $1.1 million on a footbridge is a wise use of taxpayer money. At the Village Board’s February meeting, the Village President even denied a resident’s request to have the Board vote in public on the matter. This raises two troubling questions:

Why is the Board President blocking a vote on this crucial issue and why is no one else on the Board speaking up?

If you agree a $1.1 million footbridge is a waste of YOUR money, join us at the Village Board’s public meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, at the . We need to send a clear message to our elected officials: Stop squandering our hard-earned money on ridiculous projects like this.

Larry Booth

Patrick Bieser March 06, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I don't live in the immediate neighborhood, but my family has used the footbridge almost daily year-round since we moved to Fox Point 15 years ago. It was one of the reasons we chose to move here! The footbridge is a thing of beauty, a respite from the crunch of daily life, and link between between stress and relaxation. It is (was) part of my daily jogging route along the lake shore, and the place where I take visitors to show them the uniqueness of Fox Point. Larry's traffic numbers are just plain wrong. I've seen hundreds of people use the bridge. Sewers and roads are essential to our survival, but things of beauty are essential to our emotional health. They help give our lives meaning. Larry is wrong. Fox Point needs this bridge -- it's a link to our better selves, and that's priceless.
Bob Cory March 06, 2012 at 03:52 PM
There are aprox. 6600 residents in the village. Many exist on fixed incomes. we overbuilt a police station, we will contribute to the bayside central dispatch new bldg and our fleet of DPW vehicles belong in a show compared to other municipalities and yet we are thinking about spending over a million on a foot bridge to nowhere. it is just a ravine among many others on the bluff not the grand canyon. It is said,in fact, that many use it as a dumping point especially now that the village has suspended our drop off site. There are many other worthwhile projects on the village list of capitol project improvements that should be considered before such a frivolous discretionary expenditure is undertaken to satisfy a relatively small percentage of residents. Every year our takes go up and then we should consider such foolishness? we need this to be on an informational flyer to all residents (like the crime report sent out) and then scheduled as a referendum item on the very next ballot opportunity! Lets stop the foolishness! Out village pockets are not lined with such discretioary funds! Bob Coy Village resident for 25 years
Bob McBride March 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I've used that bridge for years myself, even though I don't live in the Village, so frankly it's no skin off my back from a personal POV if the Village decides to stick it to the taxpayers to fund the rebuild. But from the standpoint of principle, it really serves a very few on a regular basis and as compared to some of the other infrastructure issues Larry mentioned, it hardly seems like a priority. This is the kind of thing one might think could benefit from a fundraiser to some extent. If it's as popular throughout the Village as some have indicated, surely some of that cost could be defrayed through fund raising efforts and the generosity of those who actually use the bridge. Has that even been attempted?
Tom Bosworth March 06, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I grew up on Beach Road and used to play in the ravine. It's a wonderful bridge and it ought to be replaced with private donations. The bridge serves primarily the people of the south eastern part of Fox Point, and frankly I don't see why the more afluent people of Fox Point should be subsidized by the less so. I am surprised and a bit disappointed that paying privately isn't a point of pride for those who use it. Rebuild the bridge. Since there is no public parking nearby, it doesn't serve the whole village, and really is an asset only for the neighborhood. The neighbors want everyone else to pay for it. Just say no. Let them pay for their own toys. Or else propose putting public parking lots on Bridge Lane and Barnett Lane so everyone can use the bridge. Will the bridge advocates still want public financing?
Dave Koven March 06, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Fox point is not so large that the bridge cannot be accessed by a short bike ride. It is an icon of Fox Point like our street signs. It is a fantastic beauty spot in a world that really needs them. As I understand it, the people who live in the area have paid for an engineer to assess the bridge with their own money. I've lived in the village since 1955. I've hiked or ridden my bike over to play in the ravine as a kid and to enjoy the view as an adult. I can't tell you how many people asked their significant others to marry them on that bridge. It is approx. 100 years old and has a history unique to our village. If it were taken down, it would be missed. Dave Koven
Craig March 06, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I missed something. I thought the neighbors that utilize this amenity had agreed to fund any repair/replacement (special assessment to only those directly benefiting). This bridge is very cool but it is not located in a common area and it is utilized by a very small number of residents. This is a local or neighborhood amenity and should be funded (or financed) as such....not paid for as a Village-wide amenity that is located in a common area.
Larry Booth March 06, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Craig; the immediate neighbors of the footbridge only agreed to pay an engineer to assess the bridge. The issue of private funding of all or a portion of the costs has been raised but no one has stepped forward. That has to tell you something about how valuable this bridge really is to the community.
Richard J. Stanislawski March 06, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I have lived in Fox Point for over 20 years now and today is the first time I have laid my eyes on this bridge! I can only believe this bridge serves as a diversionary experience for a limited minority of Fox Point residents. Are there attractive jaw-stopping views from it.? No. Easy access? No. Restoring a historic architectural structure? No. Any financial benefit to the community at large which could cover the large cost of replacement.? No, but there could be some property value benefit to home owners in the immediate neighborhood. With these facts in mind, the best process for the consideration of public funding of this project is a community-wide referendum. This democratic action will give all Fox Point citizens a voice as it should! Richard Stanislawski
Jay Sykes March 07, 2012 at 02:54 AM
The bridge is a unique village asset, but due to its limited accessibly and the high replacement/repair costs the taxpayers should not get stuck funding it. The village should commit the 130k, expected demolition costs, towards :saving: the the bridge and give the neighbors/friends of the bridge the opportunity to fund the balance of repair or new bridge costs.

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