New Berlin considers another path to City Center roadblock

Oct. 16, 2012

New Berlin - While a proposal to close portions of a neighborhood street leading into the City Center remains on the table, the plans could be tweaked.

Alderwoman Laura Karvala, who represents the area under scrutiny, has asked for modifications, and nearby residents have provided mixed feedback.

The Board of Public Works last month recommended closing Wilbur Drive, between areas intersecting with Cottonwood Road and 147th Street, in an effort to dissuade motorists from using residential streets as a shortcut to and from the City Center businesses south of National Avenue.

Neighborly access?

But Karvala presented the Common Council with a modified proposal during last week's Committee of the Whole portion of the meeting.

In a memo, Karvala said closing Wilbur along the east side of the Cottonwood intersection could potentially serve a majority of residents' concerns.

With regard to the board's existing plan, she said it "would address the traffic, safety and quality-of-life issues for the residents of the Glen Park subdivision, especially on Wilbur Drive."

But Karvala said the tweak in her proposal would take into account other factors.

"(The existing) action would restrict access to the City Center by a number of residents," Karvala wrote in the memo. "(The revised proposal) would address issues for the folks on Wilbur while not closing this access to the other New Berlin residents who would like to continue to use Wilbur to access the City Center."

The issue remains in the hands of the Board of Public Works, so the council took no action on Karvala's proposal.

No neighborhood agreement

But a dozen residents did speak out on Karvala's proposal during the privilege of the floor portion of the agenda.

Proponents lauded the effort to address existing concerns, while opponents continued to express concerns about traffic, noise and safety and believed the proposal would not remedy any of those issues.

Resident Donna Bassill said she favored some course of action being taken to remedy safety concerns.

"It's a hot mess right now," Bassill said. "People are driving too fast through the neighborhood."

Terry Piontkowski expressed frustration over the lack of resolve for the Wilbur Drive corridor. He said he is among those impacted by traffic along his residential street.

"A vote was taken, and the vote should stand as-is," Piontkowski said, referring to the Board of Public Works' recent action. "When people don't get their way, we start to hear about recalls and how bad aldermen are."

Resident Rachel Chapin suggested a civil engineer be consulted before any final decisions are made by the council. She implored officials to consider safety over convenience.

"This is not a solution; it's only moving the problem," Chapin said of the most recent proposal. "This problem is bigger than our neighborhood."


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