Committee backs plowing paved trails in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – In the interest of providing more access to walkers and bikers in the winter, Ashwaubenon’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee agreed July 12 to ask the village board to approve funding the plowing of 10.3 miles of paved trails in Ashwaubenon.
The committee’s proposal calls for clearing the following trails and related lengths: Packerland (3.2 miles); West Main (1.3 miles); Industrial Park (1.3 miles); Sand Acres (1 mile); Waube (1 mile); Ashwaubomay River Trail (1.2 miles); and Argonne (1.3 miles).
Based on an anticipated cost of $2,500 to $3,000 per mile, presuming an average winter snowfall, the committee’s proposal lists an estimated annual cost of $27,750 to $30,900.
The estimated cost includes a requirement to clear trails 48 to 72 hours after a snowfall greater than 2 inches.
“The delayed requirement for clearing (normally required within 24 hours) may result in cost savings because the potential contractor could clear the trails after taking care of their priority sites,” the committee’s proposal states.
The proposal further states the committee received “many citizen requests to have trails cleared.”
“Reasons for these requests range from recreation to transportation, fitness, the environment, and most recently, an increased interest in the health benefits of winter exercise,” the proposal states. “The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the number of people walking (running and bicycling) in our community, and the need for year-round access is greater than ever.”
Budget for 2022
Village Manager Joel Gregozeski said presenting the proposal to the board at this time would make it possible to include the plowing in next year’s village budget.
Gregozeski said the board wouldn’t necessarily have to make a formal decision at its July 27 meeting, because the request is a change in policy for maintaining trails, which could be included as part of the 2022 budget.
“We want to make sure that this is upfront – it’s within the forefront of their minds as they go into budget deliberations – so that it is an item that is definitely discussed,” he said.
Gregozeski said the board could decide to take the request into consideration with all other budget spending to prioritize.
Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Rex Mehlberg said a village department could put the funding into its budget, which during deliberations the board could “accept it, tweak it or deny it.”
Mehlberg suggested the committee prioritize what the top trails are, in the event the board wouldn’t support clearing all of them in winter but might support funding a few on a trial basis.
“I see that as something that could potentially happen,” he said.
Trustee Tracy Flucke, who chairs the committee, said it would be difficult for her to prioritize trails for plowing.
“Because if you leave out your neighborhood, is that fair…,” she said. “How do you pick the ones that are priority or not?”
Mehlberg said picking a trail, if that works out well, could lead to other trails being funded.
The committee also discussed plans by the City of Green Bay to begin an electric scooter program with Bird.
At the recommendation of Ashwaubenon Public Safety Chief Brian Uhl, the committee agreed to wait and see how the program goes in Green Bay before considering whether to have it in the village.