Thursday, January 29, 2015

More Input For West Bend Parks And Trails

My time at City Hall was short today—30 minutes, tops—but it proved to be another good opportunity to talk about bike-friendly ideas for West Bend. Last week I spent 2 hours with the Parks, Recreation & Forestry staff. This evening I spent most of my time with members of the Park and Recreation Commission. Most initiatives need support from the department, the commission, and the Common Council to become a reality. So far, so good: I have not hit any significant resistance to the idea of trail development at Park Site O. I can expect some from the Common Council if I go looking for tax money, but hopefully I won’t need it.

After conducting open-house sessions for the public and gathering opinions from an online survey, the city has a lot of ideas to consider. Many people voiced support for bike lanes and/or trail expansion, but I don’t know whether they considered the costs or that their requests, in some cases, were for things beyond the city’s jurisdiction.

The photo above shows a big map on which meeting attendees were encouraged to make notes and to draw new trails. Perhaps the most ambitious of the recommendations was for a connection between West Bend and the Wild Goose State Trail. That’s hard to imagine. A bike trail parallel to State Highway 33 would run for more than 25 miles before reaching the Wild Goose. On the Eisenbahn State Trail the closest point to the Wild Goose is at Eden, and that’s still a 9.5-mile gap. Perhaps someday the Wild Goose and an extended Eisenbahn will meet in Fond du Lac. More realistic were the recommendations for a connection between West Bend and the Ozaukee Interurban Trail and for an extension of the Eisenbahn south to Jackson, with which West Bend shares a school district. Other suggestions included a parking lot for the Eisenbahn at the Rusco Drive trailhead, mountain bike trails at the landfill west of Villa Park, and bike lanes for busy Paradise Drive and 18th Avenue.

The online survey will be active through February 8 and I encourage you to speak up for cycling in West Bend even if you are not a city resident. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious—it’s fun to dream big—but remember that the city has limits both physical and fiscal.

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