Hobart backs Hillcrest Elementary trail
By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – The Village Board agreed Sept. 21 to move forward with plans for a pedestrian trail to connect Hillcrest Elementary School with Thornberry Creek subdivision.
The board’s motion directs staff and the village engineer to design and provide cost estimates for the installation of the trail, which would connect the school with Hilton Head Drive and North Sedona Circle.
The motion calls for plans and estimates to be delivered to the board for approval at a later date, with the goal of trail installation in 2022.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said he and Public Works Director Jerry Lancelle met with Hillcrest Elementary School Principal Kristen Wells on the possibility of constructing the trail.
“Due to our growth (in Hobart), there’s a reasonable expectation that there will be some expansion to that school here in the next couple of years,” Kramer said. “We didn’t want to propose anything that would eventually have to be torn out or relocated, so that was part of the reason for the discussion.”
He said there is “an unofficial trail,” where children walk through the area, and a pedestrian crosswalk in front of Hillcrest Elementary.
Kramer said the trail would add additional pedestrian options in a safe setting for that area of Hobart, and connect with the recently-installed crossing on Hillcrest Drive.
He said discussions would need to be held with the school on possible cost-sharing, easements, trail maintenance and timetables for installation.
Kramer said there is the potential the trail could qualify for Safe Routes to School grant funding.
“This path also presents opportunities, if the school wants to do something with an outdoor classroom, taking kids back there,” he said. “It’s a pretty nice area – pedestrians walking through that area – again, we’ve got to make sure we’re on board, the school and the village are working together on this.”
Village Clerk-Treasurer Erica Berger said TDS Telecom plans to install high-speed, fiber optic internet in Hobart during 2023.
“Basically, they’re looking to cover the entire village,” she said. “It’s a large project, obviously, so the actual construction phase is going to be June of 2023 to January of 2024. It will be 100% buried cable.”
Berger said surveying for the project will begin in November.
“They’re hoping to have the actual plans to use by the fall of 2022, as to when they’re doing what,” she said. “Basically what they do is they take the village and they break it down into smaller sections, and they work one section at a time.”
Berger said TDS will send postcards to homeowners before construction starts, along with the use of door hangers, sandwich boards and yard signs to notify residents of construction.
“It will all take place in the right-of-way, and they will go back and do the restoration on all the yards,” she said. “Any grass and things that are disturbed, they’ll do the restoration on that.”
Lancelle said the project will mostly involve boring, with a minimal amount of open digging, to limit the amount of restoration needed.
“They’re going to go through our right-of-way permitting process so that we have control over it,” he said.
Kramer said the village isn’t contributing financially for TDS to install the high-speed internet.
“There were no incentives – we didn’t solicit them,” he said. “They determined there was a need in Hobart, and they will cover it from the private sector to fill that need.”
Kramer reported the village received a $10,000 rebate from its insurance company, UnitedHealthcare.
“Under the Affordable Care Act, if the insurance company doesn’t expend X percent of our premium on health insurance costs, they must refund it to us,” he said. “We did receive a refund for our 2020 insurance program. The law is very clear. The money has to rebate back to the employees. It cannot be given back to the village per se. It cannot be applied to next year’s village premiums.”
Berger said the rebate will be distributed based on the percentage each employee paid of the total premium amount in 2020.
“Based on the percentage, that is the percent of the rebate check that each employee will receive,” she said.
The board approved the appointment of Jane Jerzak to the Parks and Recreation Committee with the term expiring May 1, 2022.
Jerzak replaces Vanya Koepke, who resigned effective Oct. 1, with the appointment taking effect on that date.
The board also directed staff to draft an ordinance amendment for its Oct. 5 meeting with time limitations on the appointment of board members on a temporary basis to fill vacancies on commissions and committees.
Kramer recommended the language include the board president make the temporary appointment of another board member with board approval for not more than three months, after which the president must receive board approval to refill the vacancy.
“It could be the same board member, it could be a different one, but I think it addresses the issue of temporary fillings becoming semi-permanent or quasi-permanent,” he said.
The board referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission on whether the village should become a member of the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission (Bay-Lake RPC).
“We obviously have our own Planning and Zoning Commission, we are part of Brown County Planning Commission,” Kramer said. “The first question is: Do we need to be part of another group?”
At a recent meeting of the Bay-Lake RPC’s Executive Committee, Kramer said a motion was approved to end future individual community membership in the commission, effective next June.
He said any community that is, or becomes, a member of the Bay-Lake RPC prior to that date will be grandfathered in.
In addition, if a community chooses to cease membership after June 2022, Kramer said it will not be able to rejoin, with the only opportunity to utilize the Bay-Lake RPC’s services at that point through full county membership.
A letter from Bay-Lake RPC Executive Director Cindy Wojtczak said it would cost Hobart $5,000 to be a member in 2022.