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Fitchburg community against adding sidewalks

Fitchburg community against adding sidewalks

FITCHBURG, Wis. - More than 100 people shot down a proposal to add sidewalks to existing neighborhoods in Fitchburg.

At a meeting Monday night, Mayor Steve Arnold presented a draft proposal of the city's new Bike and Pedestrian Plan. A topic of discussion that came up was adding sidewalks to six neighborhoods.

"Out of those hundreds of people, there was no one who spoke in support of the sidewalks," Fitchburg Alder Jason Gonzalez said.

Alder Patrick Stern said his constituents don't think sidewalks are necessary.

"The streets their homes are on were designed with wide roads to accommodate foot traffic and are almost exclusively in low traffic areas," he said. "Many homes would have to redo not only their yards but also their driveways because of grading requirements. This would add significant cost to homeowners."

Richard Frame lives in Fitchburg and said he doesn't want a sidewalk added to his yard because it would make his driveway shorter.

"It seems like an expense that doesn't need to happen in an older community," Frame said.

The discussion about adding sidewalks is not something new to the city.

"We talked about this in 2010," Gonzalez said. "We thought this situation or this issue of retrofitting sidewalks was done, and now it's back six years later, and I think there's some frustration that people want finality to this situation, and they want to move forward with some of the more pressing issues in Fitchburg."

Other city officials say the topic has been blown out of proportion. Alder Jake Johnson said no one is recommending sidewalks be added to neighborhoods. The discussion at the meeting was just one possible solution to a safety problem. He said the council has heard the community's objections "loud and clear."

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