The Bridge Lane Ravine Footbridge saga continued Tuesday night when nearly 75 people attended the Village Board meeting, leaving a dozen people standing and not enough agendas to go around.
The meeting began with a report from The Boldt Company, a construction firm hired to complete a report on the bridge. They offered four different construction options ranging in cost from $1.45 million to $1.75 million. However, each option was laced with concern for the environmental impacts the construction would have on the ravine, which many residents have cited as their largest concern.
Residents were chomping at the bit to make their feelings known for and against work on the bridge. President Michael West reminded audience members that the first part of the discussion was strictly for factual questions for Boldt, not comments on what to do with the bridge.
After dozens of comments for and against work on the bridge, audience members began badgering the board with questions about why there was no decision being made Tuesday night. Not a single motion was entertained regarding the bridge.
"Not one person on this board has spoken this evening," resident Erika Siegel said. "So, I’m curious as to why? I understand, you’re the president, but why no one else representing us has answered a question? We’re all speaking, but you’re all sitting here."
Each trustee took a moment to explain why they did not begin a motion and two trustees even said they may be ready to make a decision as early as the April board meeting.
"I think we did learn some new information," trustee Douglas Frazer said. "The Boldt report was illuminating, I thought. Both with respect to how such construction might take place and to cost – which we heard was more than previously. All this is something to think about, something for me to think about. But I think by the next meeting I may be ready to vote."
Trustee Bill Warner made the motion to add the referendum and survey discussion to Tuesday's agenda and he said he has a few questions for the village manager about the costs of a survey versus a referendum. However, he said he will probably make a decision at the April board meeting.
Ned Brickman, owner of and a Fox Point resident, said he wanted to know how much work on the bridge would cost him. Previous reports from Graef and Ayers gave an , and using that number, Brickman shared the breakdown per resident for the board and the audience.
"I wanted to know what this is going to cost me. So I asked the village to research this," Brickman said. "If you own a $300,000 house, the cost to you at $1.1 million would be $25.30 per year. That’s it!"
And Frazer said knowing this kind of information is extremely helpful.
"I understand there’s variables to that, but having a number is helpful. It’s concrete. It’s something we can deal with," he said.
What's the next step?
If any work on the bridge is to take place, the board plans to only finance half of the project, leaving the other half to be raised by residents through fundraising and donations.
The Fox Point Foundation plans to vote on whether or not to assist with fundraising for the bridge at its next meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on April 29 at the Fox Point Village Hall. The Village Board will meet at 7 p.m. April 10, and the footbridge is slated for possible action.