New Berlin - The city will consider a compromise aimed at providing traffic relief for a neighborhood east of the New Berlin City Center.
Some residents in the Glen Park neighborhood want Wilbur Drive closed at 147th Street. Others are opposed. Under the compromise, Wilbur would be closed off farther east at Cottonwood Road, leaving some neighborhood access to the City Center intact while breaking up the uninterrupted east-west path it is now from Sunny Slope Road.
The idea was expected to be considered by the New Berlin Plan Commission on Tuesday. If the plan gets a favorable recommendation, it will go to the Public Works Committee, which next meets Sept. 17.
Breaking Wilbur's direct access to the southern half of the City Center from Sunny Slope Road might discourage drivers who just use Wilbur as a shortcut in lieu of driving to National Avenue, some officials and residents said. (National provides the main access to the busy mixed-use center, which spans both sides of the avenue.)
Under the compromise, neighborhood traffic would still have access to the City Center by way of Cottonwood, which would still join with Wilbur on the western side of the blocked street. Supporters of the plan said they hope drivers will feel it is less trouble to just stay on Sunny Slope until they get to National Avenue.
"This is a lot more palatable to me," Alderman John Hopkins said of the proposed compromise, which was discussed Aug. 28 before the Common Council.
Split and limited support
But the plan won't satisfy most people in the neighborhood, predicted Alderwoman Laura Karvala, who represents the area and who offered the compromise.
Karvala wants Wilbur closed, and, she said, so do most of the subdivision residents, whose concerns include cars that drive too fast along the route. In fact, the Plan Commission already recently recommended a plan to close Wilbur that would cut off access from the east entirely.
But others have strong feelings to keep it open.
Speakers addressing the council were about evenly split between cutting off all access from Wilbur and keeping it open.
Wilbur should remain open because older drivers use Wilbur instead of the busier National Avenue, said Jane Probst, who takes Wilbur to visit her mother who lives at residential complex within the City Center.
If speeding drivers are the issue, then that's what the city should be addressing, said James Roedel of Sommerset Drive
"Don't punish the community, punish the speeders," he said.
Pattie Nowak, who lives in a City Center condo on Wilbur and takes the road to work every day, wants the route unchanged to to avoid an inconvenience. But maintaining access would also make it clear the city has no concerns about Wilbur connecting both the existing neighborhood and the workforce housing residents who will soon occupy a new development in the City Center.
And then there's the safety factor. For paramedics, police and fire, "The fastest route is that street," said Jim Sheerin of Cottonwood Road.
But it's unsafe as it is, said those who support Wilbur's broken access.
Just that evening, Terry Piontkowski of Wilbur Drive said he saw five children on bicycles forced off the road by three cars coming from different directions.
"We see, day in and day out, careless driving," he said.
Cars barrel around the streets so fast that she doesn't wear her headphones anymore on walks through the neighborhood, said Pam Washburn of Crimson Lane.
Then there's the viewpoint about why Wilbur, a residential street, was ever established as an access point to the City Center at all.
"The subdivision shouldn't be a thoroughfare," Washburn said.
Directing his remarks at those who want to keep Wilbur open, William Vohwinkle Jr. of Wilbur Drive said: "If they lived on the road, they'd be complaining about it too."
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