Revisions in Works for North-End Path; Village Declines $100,000 Grant Award

During a site visit and walk-through to review preliminary plans for the north-end path from Sip cafe to Townline Road, members of the Ephraim Village Board found there was much work to be done before plans could be finalized. 

The board members reviewed site plans with a representative from AECOM for a path that would mostly be connected to Highway 42 and separated only by road markings. Earlier discussions of the path had centered on a route separated from the roadway. 

“If we do this, with no separation, drivers are just going to use this as a way to pass on the right when someone is turning left,” said trustee Matt Meacham. 

As he spoke, a driver did exactly that in the southbound lane. During the summer, the speed limit in the area is 35 miles per hour, and in the winter, it goes up to 45 miles per hour. 

The 10-foot multimodal path is intended for cyclists and pedestrians, but if it’s located along the highway, it would put southbound cyclists riding against traffic, separated only by a painted buffer. Trustee Tim Nelson worried that it would be used as a turn-off lane for northbound drivers visiting businesses along the north end, presenting a danger to pedestrians.

As they walked, trustee Ken Nelson said they originally intended for the path to be separated from the road, but it was moved closer due to engineering challenges, utility considerations and the assumption that property owners would not want to give up land or parking for the path. Nelson said, however, that the village has not met with all 10 property owners to discuss the path. Calls to four north end business owners confirmed that.

The project would be funded primarily with money remaining from the downtown streetscape project. The village submitted a grant application to the Community Investment Fund earlier this summer to cover additional costs for the project, but on Wednesday Village President Mike McCutcheon confirmed that the village refused a $100,000 grant award from the fund. He declined to say why the village refused the money. 

The board instructed AECOM to revise the path plan to separate the path from the roadway wherever possible while remaining within the highway right-of-way.

Another hurdle for the path is the property owned by Paul Burton that is protected by an easement with the Door County Land Trust. That property runs along 840 feet of the stretch between Fine Line Designs Gallery and Sip. 

Administrator Brent Bristol said the Land Trust informed the village that only a four-foot soft path would be allowed across the property. That forced engineers to plan for that stretch to go within the highway right-of-way, closer to the roadway. The village had hoped to weave the path farther away from the highway for safety and to preserve as many large roadside trees as possible.

The board asked Bristol to approach the Land Trust again to see whether there was any potential to work with the organization on the project.

Though just 0.6 miles long, the path would provide a pedestrian, nonmotorized connection between 167 lodging units and the many attractions within the path’s boundaries, such as Red Putter mini golf, Door County Rock & Gem, several restaurants and galleries, a bank, a spa and coffee shops. 

Sister Bay is also working with Liberty Grove to design an extension of its off-road, multimodal path that ends at Open Hearth Lodge at the bottom of the Little Sister Hill. Sister Bay received a grant of $90,000 from the Community Investment Fund to design the connection in the fund’s first grant cycle earlier this year. The village aims to bring that path up the hill and potentially connect to the proposed Ephraim path at Townline Road. 

No Disclosure on Continued Closed Sessions

McCutcheon refused to comment on why the village has met several times in closed session over the past month with respect to litigation in which it is or is likely to become involved. A sixth closed session meeting agenda was posted Thursday, Aug. 10.

He did confirm that the village is not currently involved in active litigation but offered no further comment.

“We haven’t completed our deliberations and when we do it will be made public,” McCutcheon said. 

The village has had five special closed session meetings for legal reasons since April, including three times since July 28, without announcing what those deliberations are or making decisions once reconvening in open session.

Related Organizations