Board Approves Woodrow Sidewalk

A 'Slow Down Watch for Kids' sign displayed on Woodrow St. (Charles Collier/The News Media)

By Charles Collier, The Denmark News

After months of discussion and investigation into solutions for safety hazards on Woodrow St., the Village Board passed a motion to install a sidewalk in a 5-2 vote.

When residents first came to the Board in May, they were concerned with pedestrian safety as trucks going to and from Salm Partners, LLC along with a multitude of cars parking on the street limited vision when backing out of driveways and forced walkers and runners to swerve between parked cars.

Many were also disturbed by how many vehicles would speed through the residential area.

The Village made the east side of the street “no parking”, Salm re-routed truck traffic off of Woodrow St. and added forty parking spaces to its lot, and 25 mph speed limit signs were installed. Many Woodrow St. residents said their worries of speed and safety were addressed with these actions alone.

An unofficial traffic study conducted by DEO Delebreau showed nearly 800 vehicles use the thoroughfare every day, traveling an average of 2.5 mph over the speed limit. An independent safety survey by McMahon Engineers classified the street as an “arterial roadway” connecting an urban area to highway systems. Delebreau and McMahon both recommended sidewalks as the safest solution.

These safety recommendations were taken into consideration alongside preparation for the closure of Wall St. in 2018 for construction, when even more traffic will likely re-route to Woodrow.

After being presented with what is seen as an imminent hazard, the Village was left with two options: Build the sidewalk or assume legal responsibility if a pedestrian was ever hit on the street.

“Yes, safety is important. I just don’t want to have to force these people to have to pay thousands of dollars for something they don’t want.” Trustee Vince Wertel, who chaired the committee that worked closely with Woodrow St. residents said.

Wertel and Trustee Susan Selner voted against the sidewalk after a contentious hour-and-a-half debate that riled emotions in the audience. Some felt “well misrepresented” and wondered, “Why are we concerned about this?”

“Our street is 40 feet wide. There’s 8 feet on each side for pedestrians, which leaves 12 on each side for vehicle traffic. You go down Highway T. That’s 22 feet wide, you go down Town Rd that’s only 20 feet wide. People can drive down 20 feet of road and not run into the ditch constantly.”

Another resident championed the power of democracy, believing in the system taking people’s views into account and doing what’s best for the whole.

The sidewalk will travel on the west side of Woodrow St. from North Ave. to Woodrow Ct.. Total costs at this time remain only rough estimates and a definitive cost per-household for the nine residences affected is unclear.

After the motion to build the sidewalks, the Board also approved the formation of a committee to set Village policy for sidewalks in the future to avoid the frustrating hassles the Woodrow deliberation has seen.