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New Berlin officials prefer direct feedback on Wilbur

Most say committee will not work

Nov. 19, 2012

New Berlin - At first blush, forming an ad hoc committee of Glen Park subdivision residents to help evaluate how well controversial temporary barricades on Wilbur Drive work to reduce cut-through traffic seemed like a good idea, some New Berlin aldermen said, but they wound up voting against it.

The ad hoc proposal that failed, 5-2, was made in response to feedback from Glen Park residents who wanted to participate in the evaluation of the barricades. That process could end in permanent barricades or in the barricades being removed. Some of those residents have expertise that might help, Alderman Dennis Horbinski, who proposed the committee, said.

The temporary barricades, known as traffic diverters, will be installed because so many residents of Wilbur Drive have complained about traffic using their neighborhood as a shortcut to National Avenue. Wilbur also is the only eastern access to the New Berlin City Center for stores and residences.

Even with the diverters, cut-through traffic could still get through, only it would have to use a circuitous route to get back onto Wilbur on the other side of the diverters. Supporters of the diverters hope the new route will pretty much discourage cut-through traffic while maintaining City Center access for the Glen Park and nearby neighborhoods.

Traffic will increase elsewhere

Opponents along that circuitous route fear rivers of traffic suddenly flowing past their homes.

The controversy has tended to pit parts of the subdivision against each other.

Aldermen voting against the ad hoc committee said they doubted that the committee would be able to do the intended job, that the ad hoc committee recommendation wouldn't change anyone's minds and that a committee would only prolong ill feelings. Instead, they wanted to rely on feedback from residents once the barricades are up.

Although he said he liked the committee idea at first, Alderman David Ament said he felt residents' opinions about how well the diverters would work are pretty much solidified and unlikely to change. He favored feedback.

"They can let us know what they think," Ament said.

Alderwoman Laura Karvala, who lives on Wilbur and spearheaded the relief effort for Wilbur residents, said the issue has become so emotional that an ad hoc committee probably could not get along enough to be useful.

Extreme opinions

Alderman Ken Harenda also noted that opinions have gone to extremes, which made him wonder what useful information the city would get out of an ad hoc committee.

But Alderwoman Deena Liska who supported it said the proposed ad hoc committee said it would focus on how to evaluate the data from the temporary closure, not whether it worked.

Mayor Jack Chiovatero said he doubted that opinion is as extreme as portrayed. He said he has spoken with residents on both sides who seemed reasonable and ready to work together.

Horbinski said having an ad hoc committee participate would help validate the council's ultimate decision in the minds of Glen Park residents.

There was some support for folding the issue into a wider look the city wants to take of the City Center's future. Because some roads will not go through as planned and because things that were going to go into the center will not, the city is considering taking a new look at the area. It might form an ad hoc committee to do that.

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