by Charles Collier, The Denmark News
DENMARK — “We make plans, and God laughs,” is an adage often deployed to soften the blow of life’s unexpected jabs. He must have had quite the chuckle watching last Wednesday’s special meeting of the Denmark Village Board, especially when a sour vote postponed long-planned road construction.
Uncertainty arose at the Board’s regular meeting last Monday, April 2, after internet provider Century Link informed officials that the exact locations of its fiber optic infrastructure were not known. The company estimated an investigative process of seven months would be required to identify any conflicts with municipal and County construction plans.
On a unanimous vote, albeit with attitudes resigned to the uncontrollable, the Board opted to reschedule the project; including a complete reconstruction of the roadway and replacement of underground water and sewer utilities, to begin next March, weather permitting.
The half-mile stretch of road is part of a nearly 12-mile upgrade to County Rd. T by Brown County crews, reaching from Blahnik Rd. in the Town of New Denmark to the intersection of N. Wall and Wisconsin Ave., the bulk of which is set to begin this year as planned.
Grant funds from Rural Development, a branch of USDA, are set to cover the Village utility installation costs. A combination of projects—like work at Veterans Memorial Park, upgrades to municipal wells, and utilities on Lynch St.—are all qualified for partial reimbursement through the program.
Village coffers will not receive a dime, however, until the final piece of the grant package has been completed and inspected for compliance. The final piece? North Wall Street. The aforementioned projects have been funded through a line-of-credit from Denmark State Bank, allowing around $3 million in borrowing which grant funds will largely offset.
Treasurer Kim Cookle said the loan’s interest rate is as much as two percent lower than those currently on the market.
The larger County project includes installation of a culvert near Peterson Rd. north of the high school. That, too, has suffered a setback.
According to an assessment by the Dept. of Natural Resources, the small creek for which the culvert is intended is crucial for spawning fish. Work there must start after the spawning season and is currently slated to begin on June 15.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists will be accompanying the International Softball Congress World Tournament in August 2019, amplifying an already stressful situation for everybody involved. Still, engineers are cautiously confident that the road will be navigable by the start of the tournament, and at least one lane will be open for the duration of construction.
North Wall’s postponement comes as the Village is moving forward to build two new streets extending from a roundabout on De Pere Rd. near the Interstate interchange. Village engineers are slated to install utilities this fall with construction in the spring.
Brown County public works director Paul Fontecchio anticipates closing that part of De Pere Rd./CTH KB for two months, potentially in May and June next year, and rerouting traffic from STH 96 and I-43 to Bohemia Dr.
Should next spring follow the cue of 2017 with sub-freezing temperatures and snowstorms, both roads—two of the Denmark’s most heavily traveled and economically important—could be closed to traffic simultaneously, an inconvenience which Village plans intentionally sought to avoid.
While the spirit in the sky may find lighthearted comedy in the disruption, the projects still represent steps toward inviting future business development and making Village streets attractive for prospective residents. Next spring, frustrated motorists may find comfort by keeping another proverb in mind: Pain is merely weakness leaving the body.