Chairman says forum was held to ‘plant the seed’ for more money to be used for maintenance
Few topics get Town of Saukville residents more riled up than the condition of the community’s roads, an observation underlined during a public forum last week.
Town Chairman Don Hamm scheduled the forum at the start of the March 15 Town Board meeting to gauge public sentiment on the possibility of increasing the town’s road budget.
There are 40 miles of town roads in the township.
More than two dozen people attended the forum, and most had comments on what needs to be done to improve the rural roads.
“When I first got into office, I saw how the road spending had been cut and the previous administration was just kicking the can down the road,” Hamm said.
“It is time to pay the piper.”
That message was echoed by town residents who spoke at the forum.
“I’ve been complaining about our roads for five or six years. When was the last year we ‘did’ two miles of road,” said Hawthorne Drive resident Al Gosewehr.
“Nobody has done anything with our roads for years. I would like to see a traffic counter used, because the worst roads may not be the ones we want to resurface first.”
Resident Ken Watry said the heavily traveled south end of Blueberry Road deserves attention.
“There are 20 driveways in a half mile of road there and it is on the verge where it could still be salvageable,” Watry said, “but north Blueberry is all shot.”
Resident Mike Byers who lives on St. Augustine Road said that gravel road has become hazardous.
“The potholes are seven or eight inches deep and there is severe rutting that is a safety hazard,” Byers said.
“The gravel has washed away, so it is a dirt road now. It is a good Monster Truck track that is popular with high-school kids who like to spin their tires.”
Mike Paulus said he has been maintaining Meadowlark Road’s gravel base in front of his dairy farm for the past five years.
Paulus asked if property owners can clear the ditches and remove brush from the town roads along their rural properties without repercussions.
He then posed a radical suggestion — raise taxes to pay for road work.
“What would it take to raise the road budget to a certain amount?” Paulus asked.
“If you could assure the town residents that money would only be used to fix roads, I think they would support it. Somebody, maybe this board, has to start that process.”
Weed cutting and tree trimming also came under fire during the forum.
At the conclusion of the forum, Hamm said he hopes the forum has “planted the seed” in the community that there is a need for a multi-year, high dollar plan to take control of road maintenance in the town.
Hamm said such a financing plan could be presented as part of next month’s annual town meeting.