At a Sept. 13 meeting of the Ephraim Village Board with planning consultant Jamison Brown, the board gave the green light for Brown to move forward with some design concepts both inside and outside of the planned Department of Transportation (DOT) resurface slated for 2018-19.
“This discussion is not creating drawings or doing designs or paying for anything,” Brown assured the village after describing concepts around the presentation and parking at the village hall. “It’s an attempt to get the board to facilitate moving forward on the stuff they’ve been talking about for a couple of years now.”
Brown presented a few concepts that the village residents first voiced for back in 2014. He was careful to differentiate between the DOT resurface project and village projects such as the Cherry Street steps and a walking path.
The DOT resurface project simply consists of milling off some of the existing asphalt and laying down a new surface. Anything outside of that scope that the village wants to do must be presented to the state by next August and it will likely be at the cost of the village. Still, it’s easier to do all the construction throughout Ephraim at one time instead of putting a new road in one year and tearing up the sidewalk the next.
At the Sept. 13 meeting, the village board took each concept one by one and voiced their opinions on each, taking an informal vote to tell Brown to move forward with designs. Board member Paul Roppuld was absent from the meeting.
Village Hall District
“The village hall area was identified during the master planning process as a critical place for the village,” said Brown, explaining the inefficient and asphalt-heavy parking around the village hall. “In the absence of [a] guiding plan I think the village has suffered aesthetically.”
“I’d like to see the village hall have more green space in front,” said board member Cindy Nelson. “We would lose a few parking spots, but minimal.”
“If we eliminate the parking altogether we need to find more parking spaces for the ones we’re taking away and I don’t see where that’s going to happen,” said board member Tim Nelson. “This is something that other people have thought about and worked out over the last five, six, seven decades and it works. I don’t think we have to change that.”
“The idea of parking in the village as a whole is something you have to look at holistically,” said Brown. “If we can improve people’s ability to walk safely, there’s going to be less need for parking right at the front door.”
Brown presented a concept design of parking at the beach that included a one-way entry on the north side of the beach followed by angled parking separated from the highway by some green space. The board informally voted to leave the beach alone outside of clean up and maintenance despite recognizing safety concerns with parking.
“I would like to see the parking improved because it’s kind of a helter-skelter parking situation,” said board member Jim Stollenwerk, the only vocal dissenter to leaving the parking unchanged. “I think the parking really has to be addressed.”
“I think the public beach, in its general layout, is fine,” said Tim Nelson. “As far as changing the parking, I don’t think we need to put in more parking at the public beach and I don’t think we have to take away parking. At some point you rely on the common sense of people. There’ s not much we can do to really change that.”
“I think the beach is a great area for Ephraim and it works as it is but it truly needs to be kept up and cleaned up. The street side of the restrooms is just overgrown weeds,” said Cindy Nelson.
“Consensus for a spruce up, I think I would call this plan,” said Brown.
Cherry Street Steps
The consensus among the board was that the steps leading up from Cherry Street, near the gazebo next to Wilson’s, past County Road Q, are in need of repair. Brown explained that the steps are actually part of a right-of-way the width of a village road that the village can use in the reconstruction of the steps. What is currently a narrow staircase could become a wide climb to a landing with a view of the village and Eagle Harbor.
“They are kind of an eyesore,” said Stollenwerk, chair of the Physical Facilities Committee. “The Cherry Street steps have been on the agenda of this committee for three years.”
“I think we have to do something with the Cherry Street steps,” said Tim Nelson. “Whether it gets done at the same time as we’re doing streetscape or not remains a question. The problem with trying to put a lot of time and energy into this means we’re not going to be able to put as much into the actual highway resurfacing that the state has planned. That, unfortunately, is more important than making sure Cherry Street’s upper and lower become more user friendly first.”
“I’m in favor of a rehab of the Cherry Street steps,” said McCutcheon. “My own concept, imagine a deck up there.”
Brown will design some concept for the Cherry Street steps to be presented to the board at a future meeting.
The meeting then moved to parts of the project that must be coordinated with the DOT. All the previous projects could be started before, during or after the DOT highway resurface without affecting the project, but when it comes to storm sewers, curbs and walking paths, the village must tell the DOT what it hopes to see when the state rolls through.
The village had a consensus to address storm sewer runoff without any discussion. McCutcheon also took a poll of residents in the village hall on support of burying power lines in the village while assuring, “We do not want the village full of big green boxes.”
Brown then presented three options to fill the right of way through the village. A walking path connecting the wetlands on the south end of the village with Anderson Dock was a consensus among board members, while specifics such as the width of the sidewalk, curbs and which side of the road the sidewalk would be on are still on the table for discussion. Bike lanes through Ephraim were eliminated.
Brown will take the recommendations from the village board back to the drawing board to better determine a vision for the village as plans for the highway resurface approach.