Fox Point Village Board members voted Tuesday to have consultant Ayers Associates design a brand new bridge to replace the old Bridge Lane Ravine Footbridge in accordance with specifications laid out by President Michael West.
"Don’t forget, we are not committed to building a bridge," West said.
Tuesday's decision does not tie the board to constructing anything that the consultant, Ayers Associates, creates. However, it does set the board on that path, as they utilize the allocated $37,773 contract with Ayers to plan a replacement bridge rather than repair or removal.
Trustee Beverly Bell suggested modifying West's proposal to request Ayers also look into repair options, but other trustees voted it down.
"If we take your motion, it is simply replacement, and I don’t think we have thoroughly discussed the possibilities of repair," Bell said.
Residents Weigh In
More than 30 residents filled for the meeting Tuesday, speaking passionately for and against replacing the bridge that has been closed since October 2010 and connects Barnett and Bridge Lane.
Mary Connelly, who lives near the bridge, urged the board to move forward Tuesday.
"We would like to take some action so we can and life can go on on our streets," Connelly said.
Others said the board should explore cheaper options, or hold a referendum to judge residents' desire for a new bridge.
"Our taxes are going skyward every single year; I don’t think I’ve had a reduction since I’ve owned the property," resident Frank Reed said. "I think the board could be a little bit more careful about how we spend money."
Dorothy Meyers, who said she has lived in the village since 1965, said she thought the board should consider funding other projects like street repairs before investing in the bridge.
"My street's been the same since 1965; it's never been repaved," Meyers said. "I think the bridge is very nice, but not for that amount of money."
Other residents said costs like the bridge are a compromise of building a strong community.
"This is worth spending money on," resident Barbara Schwartz said. "I’m very sympathetic to the folks who talk about being nickel and dimed to death, but that’s the price you pay to be part of communities like this one."
The question of funding for the bridge still looms before the board, but with some direction from motions by Trustee Douglas Frazer.
The board resolved not to move forward with construction before residents secure $625,000 in donations for the project, with a deadline of January 31, 2013. That value is half of a rough estimation for the total cost of constructing a new bridge, not including the approximately $250,000 cost of removing the old bridge.
Board members also voted to allocate $1,500 to the Bridge Lane Ravine Footbridge Citizens Committee to help residents set up a non-profit organization to begin fundraising efforts.
In the meantime, Ayers Associates will come up with a design for the bridge including the following limitations as drafted by West:
- The primary structural elements will be steel trusses or beams with parallel, horizontal tom top and bottom chords. The vertical supports will be structural steel.
- The design will not require painting.
- The design will be devoid of decorative elements.
- The clear width will be nine feet.
- Materials will be durable and low-maintenance.
- The design will minimize the removal of trees.