To Bury or Not to Bury? That’s the final question in Egg Harbor

A crowd of 75 people filled the Kress Pavilion Monday night to see the latest plans for the Highway 42 resurfacing and streetscaping project in Egg Harbor. 

The key remaining decision for the village is whether to bury power lines in the village core, and the board will decide that during its Aug. 9 meeting. 

The board has three options. The first is to keep the existing wooden power lines with guy wires. That would have no additional cost. The second is to install tall, black fiberglass poles like those installed in Fish Creek that do not require guy wires. That would cost $1.2 million to replace the 37 poles in the core area. That comes to $55 per year for 20 years for a home valued at $300,000. The third option is to bury the lines at a cost of $2.3 million. That would cost about $110 per year for 20 years for a home valued at $300,000. 

“Bury those damn utilities,” said Rich Woldt. “I fight just about everything that’s built in this village, but I’m behind this 100%. Ten years from now, we’re going to be proud of what we did.”

“As a business owner, I am very in favor of burying the power lines,” said Karen Peterson, owner of Maxwell’s House. “If you take a look at Ephraim, where they buried power lines, and Fish Creek, where they didn’t, the difference is startling.”

A rendering of the southbound left turn lane into Main Street Shops.
The intersection today. Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

The project, set to begin in the fall of 2022 and continue through the spring of 2024, will reshape the highway through the village and redesign sidewalks, lighting, greenery and pedestrian crossings. The total cost of the project comes to $6.24 million. That will be offset by a $1.38 million Transportation Alternatives Grant from the state that will cover much of the cost of extending sidewalks on the north and south ends of the village, bringing the cost to local taxpayers to $4.85 million. 

That will bring the tax rate per $1,000 of property value to $12.61 in 2022 and $13.10 in 2025, before dropping in 2029 when debt for the marina and Kress Pavilion comes off the books. Sister Bay’s tax rate is $13.99, and Sturgeon Bay’s is $20.52.

The overall plan received a largely positive response. Only one resident spoke against the plan during the Monday session. Luke Bentley said he has owned his home at 7886 Hwy 42 for 33 years and criticized the plan for “taking all the green away.”

“You’re removing all the trees,” he said. “You’re going to ruin the village.”

The plan calls for 10-foot sidewalks on both sides of the street. The existing sidewalks are about four feet, set off from the curb in most areas by brick pavers, grass or trees. Those would be removed in the new plan and replaced with red concrete or pavers. 

Parking will be added on both sides of the street on north of Orchard Road. The highway entrance to the village administration building (right) will be removed.

Ken Mathys, a member of the streetscape planning committee, said the committee is continuing to look for places to add green space.

To ease congestion near the Highway 42 and County G intersection, the plan adds a northbound left-turn lane onto White Cliff Road and a southbound left-turn lane into the Main Street Shops. Chair Lisa Van Laanen said the committee considered adding a southbound left-turn lane at Main Street Market, but it would have required the removal of too many parking stalls. 

The plan includes bump-outs – intended to slow traffic and improve pedestrian crossings – at the intersection of Harbor School Road and Highway 42, and at County E and Highway 42. Bump-outs throughout the core would be removed, however, to increase the number of on-street parking spaces from 74 to 122. 

The approach to the Highway 42/ County G intersection.
A northbound left turn lane will be added at the intersection of Highway 42 and White Cliff Road.

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