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Lakefront bike path survives spending jitters

The City Council Monday voted to go through with plans for a long-envisioned renewal of the lakefront bike path, despite concerns about the project’s $1.8 million cost

The project would rebuild the bike path from Lee to Clark Streets.

The state would pick up about 60 percent of the cost, with the city to fund the rest as part of its Capital Improvement Program.

The City Council Monday voted to go through with plans for a long-envisioned renewal of the lakefront bike path, despite concerns about the project’s $1.8 million cost

The project would rebuild the bike path from Lee to Clark Streets.

The state would pick up about 60 percent of the cost, with the city to fund the rest as part of its Capital Improvement Program.

But when the project was first proposed in 2005, city staff believed the state would pay for 80 percent of the work.

City parks officials say it turned out the state was only willing to pay for 80 percent of the path itself and only allowed the city to provide its match on the pavement portion.

That left the city to pick up the full tab for pathway lighting and other amenities that are part of the plan.

Parks Director Doug Gaynor said the staff believes it would ultimately be less expensive and less disruptive to park activities to install the lighting at the same time as the path, and he said the lighting had been strongly supported in community reviews of the project.

The staff cut plans for also rebuilding the pedestrian walkway along the lakefront as part of this project after learning the state transportation department would not provide funding for that.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward; Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, and Don Wilson, 4th Ward, all voiced concerns about spending so much on a capital project when the city is facing an $8 million general fund budget deficit next year.

Fiske suggested postponing a vote until the council has a broader discussion about the lakefront next month, but Gaynor said the city’s funding request has to be submitted to the state by the end of this month to receive funding during the current annual funding cycle, and the council defeated the delay on a 6-3 vote.

A vote to cut the city funding required in half by eliminating the new lights was also defeated, and motion to go ahead with the full project was approved 7-2, with Fiske and Wilson voting no.

 

 

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