Residents voice concerns over Fond du Lac Avenue trail

Plans call for connecting trail from 124th Street and Rotary Park

Feb. 22, 2013

Menomonee Falls - Residents turned out in droves last week for an information meeting that addressed an 8-foot-wide multiuse trail that will run along Fond du Lac Avenue in Rotary Park and connect to a park in Milwaukee County.

The trail will run along the north side of Fond du Lac Avenue from Rotary Park to 124th Street. Some sections will run along the roadway, while other portions will connect off the street. The village wants to create a safer path for bikers and pedestrians, however, residents who live along Fond du Lac Avenue deem the path unnecessary and intrusive, saying the $900,000 budgeted for the project could be used elsewhere in the village.

Menomonee Falls resident Gina Bertucci spearheaded a petition effort to stop construction of the bike trail, which about two dozen residents signed in opposition to the project.

Don't wreck backyard, too

"We have a freeway going through the backyard right now, we don't need a bike trail going through the front yard," Bertucci said, adding she is concerned about upkeep and maintenance.

The village, which has plans to construct and complete the path in fall, is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the trail.

Bertucci would like the village to have a vote to determine if the path is necessary. A few other residents who live along Fond du Lac Avenue interviewed by NOW also asked for a vote. In 2000, when the trail was first proposed, a survey went out to residents who overwhelmingly opposed the project.

The village sees a need to create a safe place for bikers and pedestrians, as well as more breathing room for police officers when they stop people for traffic violations Trustee Michael McDonald said during a Village Board meeting last week.

Resident Al Schulz is concerned about trail maintenance, as well as what the area will look like once the Kohl's Corporate Campus is complete, which includes the extension of a roadway with an outlet onto Fond du Lac Avenue. Harry Grimmer, who lives on the north side of Fond du Lac Avenue, said he is ready to put his house up for sale as a result.

Safe place to walk, bike

Tom Hoffman, the village's director of engineering, said having a connection between Rotary Park to Dretzka Park in Milwaukee County is one of the benefits of the trail, in addition to user safety.

"It gives people a safe place to walk, ride their bike, push kids in strollers - I've seen all of that as I've been driving up and down that (road)," he said.

Menomonee Falls resident Rick Anton said the path could turn into a nice amenity for the village.

"We don't live anywhere near there so it's hard to say the impact on the property owners," Anton said. "On Fond du Lac Avenue there is no place to walk, I took a ride in that area to look at it and it's terrible."

Anton's wife, Claudia Dolphin, is an avid biker with a group of about 10 residents. She said the path could be used recreationally by the group; however, she likes to bike further away from the road because it's more peaceful.

"We are for it, but I don't know how much use I would get out of it," she said, adding she would like to see a trail in the south side of the village, connecting to the Bugline Trail.

Still, residents along Fond du Lac Avenue adamantly oppose the project. John and Sylvia Zimmer said the path will take away their front yard.

"I don't want it. I don't feel like people who walk in our yard, knock down the things in my flower bed, we have deer in our flower bed, people throw cans in our flower bed, so why would we want a path so more people can walk in our yard?" Sylvia Zimmer said.

Hoffman said they are hoping to have the trail completed by October, with the cost coming in lower than the budgeted $900,000.

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