The Village of Ephraim will vote on whether to pursue new streetlights and the burial of utility and power lines through the downtown corridor at its May 8 meeting. Over the next month, the village will receive cost estimates for the projects before deciding whether to proceed.
The May 8 decision is not final, because the village would need to put the project out for bid and sign the contract, but Village Administrator Brent Bristol said the decision will signify the village’s intent to complete the projects.
In October, initial rudimentary costs for replacement of streetlights was $600,000 and burial of power lines was approximately $1.9 million.
Ken Nelson, chair of the Streetscape subcommittee, which is tasked with planning the project before board approval, said two primary objectives are to maintain the aesthetic nature of the community and minimize impacts to adjacent properties.
During public comment, the village board fielded comments from two residents expressing concern with the process and seeking the board rescind its approval of a sidewalk between the village beach and the old fire station.
“One major reason is that not even one Wisconsin DOT [Department of Transportation] safety official has declared the highway unsafe,” said village resident Richard Van de Ven, expressing his dislike of the approved sidewalk.
Nelson said the sidewalk is tied in with stormwater management along the same stretch of road. Stormwater management requires construction of a curb, making the sidewalk necessary for pedestrians to be able to walk on the opposite side of the curb.
Van de Ven requested a village-wide referendum on each of the expenditures related to streetscape, but village board president Mike McCutcheon said the projects have been vetted since planning began four years ago.
“This has taken a long time and I think the board has duly considered this in their deliberation,” McCutcheon said.
On April 13 at noon, four village committees will meet together to go over the streetlighting plans and cost estimates. The recommendation from that meeting will go to the Historic Preservation Committee and then the Plan Committee before board approval on May 8.
At its April 10 meeting, the village approved the State-Municipal Agreement with the DOT on the basic highway resurfacing. While the DOT is covering the cost of the resurfacing of the highway, the village is on the hook for $69,376, which includes paving and marking of parking lanes and additional paving outside of the DOT’s right of way.
In other Ephraim news:
- Senator Ron Johnson plans to set up a mobile office in the village for one hour on either May 15, 16 or 17. The village approved use of either the village office, clarifying that with Johnson not up for re-election until 2022, the village was not endorsing Johnson during a campaign. Johnson’s staff runs the mobile office and the Senator does not typically attend.
- The village approved closure of Highway 42 between Cedar Street and Cherry Street for the annual Fyr Bal festival on June 16. The closure will take place from 7:30 am to 10 pm. Board member Tim Nelson said he heard from a downtown business owner that last year’s road closure hurt the business. Ephraim Tourism Administrator Lane Sauve and Ephraim Business Council President Mike McCarthy said they understood the concerns and would try to encourage better cooperation with the local business who may be affected by the closure.