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The Lakeland Times | Minocqua, Wisc.

Jim Tait 02/01-02/28/17

home : news : news June 24, 2017

4/18/2017 7:28:00 AM
Boulder Junction information meetings lack attendance
Road improvement committee works toward a September elector vote
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times

Rows of empty chairs were a feature of two public information meetings conducted by the Boulder Junction road improvement committee Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times

Rows of empty chairs were a feature of two public information meetings conducted by the Boulder Junction road improvement committee Wednesday and Thursday of last week.
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times

Boulder Junction resident Greg Van Grinsven, a member of the town’s road improvement committee, makes a presentation at Thursday’s public information meeting.
Brian Jopek/Lakeland Times

Boulder Junction resident Greg Van Grinsven, a member of the town’s road improvement committee, makes a presentation at Thursday’s public information meeting.

Brian Jopek
Reporter


Boulder Junction's five person road improvement committee, which has been working for some time now gathering information on a multi-year plan for 64 of the town's 93 miles of roads, conducted two public information meetings last week.

Each of the sessions, held Wednesday and Thursday, featured a presentation regarding seven different scenarios the committee is currently looking at, ranging from one scenario estimated to cost several million dollars, to another that essentially would only use the town's budgeted amount every year, roughly $200,000 to $250,000, to take care of what would be emergency situations.

Or possibly a combination of scenarios, depending on what's found as the group gets into the process of getting an engineering firm on board that can do a professional assessment and then make recommendations.

Committee members expect to have that engineering firm hired no later than the end of May.

By September, the plan is to have a solid recommendation to the town board so a meeting of the electors can be scheduled and the decision on what to do ultimately made then.

Timing is important because if town electors do vote in September to go with whatever the recommendation is, grant applications need to be submitted by Oct. 1.

The purpose of the grant money, committee members have said over time, would be to offset cost to the town and taxpayers.

Approximately 12 Boulder Junction residents attended Wednesday's meeting, held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, there were - not counting committee members and press - three or four.

In a committee meeting conducted after Thursday's public information meeting, Greg Van Grinsven, among those who has devoted many hours to the effort to this point, plans to provide a 10 minute summary for tonight's annual meeting in the community center.

"It's going to be an update and not the full question and answer period," he said. "Cover the highlights and let people know where we're at. Yes, we're working on a plan and here's the timetable to get it done. Kind of an update."

Regarding the two public information meetings, while town chairman Dennis Reuss said he was very pleased with how they and Van Grinsven's presentation were put together, there was an air of disappointment with the turnout.

"The good news is, it's a very small population," Van Grinsven said during the committee's followup meeting. "At the end of each meeting, there was some positive feedback. That's encouraging."

However, Van Grinsven said, as has been discussed privately and publicly, "we put a lot of time and effort into creating this information, it's on the web and in the (community center) hallway and on the wall in two information meetings and 15 people show up."

"It's disappointing," he said.

"Especially given the railing we got last fall," town supervisor Dennis Duke said, a reference to the town budget meeting in November, where some residents chastised the town board for not doing anything recently with the road program.

It was that meeting that ultimately resulted in the addition of Van Grinsven and Bill Fehlandt to the committee and the weeks of gathering information.

"I did like the questions," Van Grinsven said.

Several people have asked, despite the group telling them over time, there would be every effort made to get whatever grant money the town could get to help fund whatever was decided.

"I don't know how to improve the delivery to make the point more clear that in the guiding principles, we are committed to getting as much as we can from any funding agency to offset the investment cost," Van Grinsven said. "That comes up in every meeting and we are committed to do that."



Meeting notice question

About halfway into the followup session, Boulder Junction resident Barb Boston arrived.

During discussion about the committee's secretarial needs, she said she believed that person should come from within the committee itself.

When it came time for public comment, she had a question about how the meeting was noticed.

The meeting notice said it would start at 12 p.m. "or immediately following the Public Information Meeting Boulder Junction Community Center, Nordlof Conference room."

That was done because at a prior committee meeting, not knowing what sort of turnout there would be, the committee decided to make a provision for that.

As it turned out, the Thursday public information meeting was over early and the followup began at 11:20 a.m., 40 minutes before it was noticed.

That was the gist of Boston's complaint.

"I was at the previous committee meeting where the concern was 'What if we run over?' (during the information meeting)," she said. "I would assume you would not have started before 12, the way this is worded. I'm just going to leave it at that. That's me."

Boston later pointed out to The Lakeland Times on the sign in front of the community center, it had been advertised for several days Thursday's information meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

"The road committee meeting was advertised on the sign as starting at 12 p.m.," she said.

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.





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