PLATTEVILLE — The sidewalks on Ellen Street and Virgin Avenue come to a stop just north of the property at 555 Ellen St. on which developers propose to build the multiple-tenant Platteville Retail Center.
After the Platteville Common Council voted 5–2 April 23 against giving developers a waiver from the city’s sidewalk requirements, developer Lee & Associates will be required to install sidewalks that will stop at Business 151, which has no sidewalks.
The council majority — at-large Alds. Mike Denn and Dick Bonin were opposed — voted as the Safe Routes Committee did, seeking to deny the waiver, and against the Plan Commission, which approved the waiver.
“People are walking there right now, they’re crossing there right now, there is a neighborhood there right now,” said Safe Routes Committee chair Kristina Fields. “We have people walking there right now.”
“This area is becoming more and more problematic in my opinion,” said District 3 Ald. Barb Daus, who called the construction of Walgreen’s, 675 S. Water St., without sidewalks “very unfortunate. … This is going to be an incredibly intense area for pedestrians.”
“I really don’t see any reason for sidewalks there at this time,” said Denn. “They are sidewalks to nowhere.”
The developer proposed to extend the sidewalk on Ellen to its property, but the council vote will require the developer to extend the sidewalk down to Business 151.
Opponents of the sidewalk waiver argued that the city has made too many sidewalk waivers.
“Time after time, we get waivers for sidewalks for businesses in this corridor,” said Fields.
Main Street Program executive director Jack Luedtke called it “a bad precedent for the council to keep considering these waivers.”
UW–Platteville sustainability coordinator Amy Seeboth said sidewalks should be built now “if we’re really looking out for residents and their safety” and if the city wants to “be savvy with tax dollars.” Seeboth called it “pretty nominal costs compared to everything else.”
One subject that was part of the debate was if or when sidewalks will be installed on Business 151 as part of the street’s eventual reconstruction. Business 151 was removed from the state highway system in 2005 when the U.S. 151 bypass opened.
“When Business 151 needs to be reconstructed or rehabilitated, to me that’s the time to look at a larger-scale project,” said Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot. “Business 151 is a business route; it’s not a state highway, and it will not be paid for by the state.”
“Aren’t we putting the cart before the horse?” said Bonin. “Shouldn’t we be getting the road ready and then” building sidewalks.
The council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for retaining walls for the project to step down the grade from the top of the hill on Ellen Street to Business 151.