Wolf River Ave. closes for construction
More projects begin next week
By Scott Bellile
Construction is set to begin this week on approximately two blocks of West Wolf River Avenue near downtown New London.
The stretch from Wyman Street to Pearl Street is expected to be closed for over a month and reopen in mid-October. The $214,000 project will replace curb and gutter along property lines.
The following are the detours posted by the city. Each detour can be traveled in the reverse order of what’s listed:
• General detour: Shawano Street to North Water Street to Pearl Street.
• Detour to access Wolf River Veterinary Clinic: West Spring Street to Wyman Street, or West Wolf River Avenue (west of the construction zone) to Wyman Street.
• Detour during Fall Family Fest (Saturday, Sept. 10 on North Water Street): Beacon Avenue to Wyman Street to West Wolf River Avenue to Shawano Street.
Smaller curb and gutter projects are set to take place this month on other local streets:
• Wisconsin Street, a 305-foot street near Festival Foods that connects West North Water Street to Wolf River Plaza, will close next week. The curb and gutter reconstruction should take three to four weeks.
• Wyman Street from the intersection of Martin Street to Pershing Road will see curb and gutter rehabilitation around the same time. This should take around a week.
• Ridgeway Drive from Wallace Street to Quincy Street will also undergo curb and gutter rehabilitation for about a week.
Property owners whose curb and gutter are within the work zones will pay for half of the cost of the work. The city will foot the other half of the bill.
Property owners will owe $5.45 per foot of curb along Wolf River Avenue, $13.20 per foot along Wisconsin Street and $16.78 per foot on Ridgeway Drive and Wyman Street.
Reconstruction vs. rehabilitation
Curb and gutter reconstruction, which is taking place on Wolf River Avenue and Wisconsin Street, is more work than rehabilitation. At an Aug. 8 city council meeting where the projects were discussed, Public Works Director Jeff Bodoh explained the difference between reconstruction and rehabilitation.
“Reconstruction is basically they take the road out, put new stone in, new pavement,” Bodoh said. “[Whereas rehabilitation,] on Ridgeway, we’re looking to have it what we call milled. So basically the top inch and a half would get milled off, and then it’d get repaved with an inch and three quarters, so it’d be allowed to settle over years.”
Projects spark debate
At that city council meeting, two residents whose properties are affected expressed disapproval that they must pay assessments based on the footage of their curbs. Both said the city should cover the projects using the population’s property taxes.
“As far as assessment, that’s what’s in the city ordinance,” Bodoh said. “It’s one of the few assessments we haven’t gotten rid of yet. It’s typical on construction projects where we do replace partial or all of the curb. We used to have assessments on sidewalk and sewer main. Over the years we’ve gotten rid of those. This is what we just haven’t gotten rid of.”
One of the residents, Jim Ziegler, veterinarian at Wolf River Veterinary Clinic on Wolf River Avenue, told the council he already provides discounted services to the police department when it brings in stray animals, and now his clinic is going to take a hit from the city’s road closure. He asked the council to consider eliminating curb and gutter assessments.
The other property owner, Debbie Neuens on Ridgeway Drive, owns the only single-family home on the stretch affected by curb and gutter rehabilitation. Her estimated share is $360 for her 22 feet of curb and gutter to be rehabilitated.
She said there are 22 residential units between the apartments and duplexes on the street and it’s not right those tenants aren’t splitting her bill.
“I really hope that you guys take it into consideration to get this changed,” Neuens said. “Maybe you can’t change it tonight, but maybe for next time because to assess something like that, it’s so unfair on a single person living down there, one individual family unit as opposed to all the others.”
Mayor Gary Henke said the costs as of now are based on each individual property’s footage, not how many people live in a particular area. He said the public works committee could consider evaluating the current ordinance.