Village Board looks at plan for next year’s road project

By Tracy Ouellette

SLN Staff

The East Troy Village Board met in a Committee of the Whole Aug. 24 to discuss the Village Square renovation project that will be done in conjunction with Walworth County’s Highway ES road restoration next year.

With the deadline fast approaching for solid engineering designs, Department of Public Works Director Jason Equitz and Village Engineer Tim Lynch, of Lynch and Associates, asked the board for direction on a few items so the plans can be firmed up.

The items needing clarification included feedback on parking, landscaping and traffic patterns.

The plan to spruce up the Village Square includes realigned parking stalls, possible changes in traffic patterns so the square operates more like a traditional roundabout, additional plantings and trees along with widened sidewalks to allow for more outdoor seating.

Much of the discussion focused on the traffic pattern around the Village Square, which trustees said could be confusing to drivers unfamiliar with the area. However, concerns about not having drivers stop upon entering the square off highways ES and 120 were voiced.

“I like the more roundabout style here with not stopping in the roundabout, but I have concerns about safety for people backing out (of parking stalls),” Trustee Matt Johnson said.

Lynch said using stop controls upon entering the Village Square are still and option to control traffic and speed on the square, adding that even with the narrower driving lane propose there was still enough room for people to go around someone pulling out into traffic.

Trustee Al Boyes, who is a former Village of East Troy police chief, also voiced concerns about the proposed traffic pattern.

“A couple of things concern me,” Boyes said. “The approach up Main Street and the stop bar before you enter the Square. So now you’d be blocking Church Street there and holding up traffic. Some places we have stops on the Square and it looks free-flowing now, the only people who have to stop are the people entering the Square. I think it makes it more dangerous for people on the Square.”

Lynch acknowledged there were some “challenges” with designing the traffic flow on the Square. Particularly for drivers coming up on Highway ES and having to stop on the hill.

“The traffic issue in winter with the stop entering the square is that maybe you couldn’t make it up the hill if you have to stop,” John Jacoby pointed out.

Melanie Denhart, owner of The Global Glass, said there have been some “incredible near misses” at the intersection of Highway ES and Church Street on that hill and was hoping for a “permanent fix” to the problem.

Board members also questions the placement of some trees on the Square because they might block visibility for drivers. The idea of adding trees to the outside sidewalks on the Square was one of the answers Equitz needed from the board at last week’s meeting.

“We need an answer tonight, do we want trees on the Square,” Equitz told the board. “We need to narrow this down and get it designed. Do you want wider sidewalks? That’s another big question we need to answer.”

The board had a protracted discussion about “frustrated” drivers on the Square and how it was the hope a new traffic pattern would solve the issue.

Jacoby, a former village trustee, weighed in with his observations of drivers on the Square and his own experience when a motorcyclists crashed into his car a few years ago.

“This was an experienced driver and he was more worried about what was coming up on the blindside (Highway ES) of the hill and didn’t see the car parallel parking and to avoid hitting the inside of the Square he hit my car. It’s an unusual traffic pattern. I can’t tell you how many first-hand accounts of near misses I see on a daily basis on the Square.”

Jacoby also pointed out that the overly wide driving lane around the Square can be confusing to drivers and maybe delineated lines would help.

“Paint is cheap,” he said.

More trees

The board also discussed adding trees, either in planters or in the sidewalk, with the renovation project.

Several business owners on the Square spoke in favor of this, but there were some residents and business owners against it.

“I’m opposed to trees on the sidewalk,” Denhart said. “It’s an obstruction to kids on bikes and a big maintenance issue. Quite frankly, they block the buildings and are a distraction to the businesses.”

Other business owners on the Square disagreed.

“I’m a big proponent of the trees; they look really nice and they’re not going to block businesses,” East Troy Brewery owner Ann Zess said.

The board instructed Equitz and Lynch to come back with options for trees, with Village Board President Scott Seager pointing out to the board members that those options would be very limited as most trees would not fare well in the environment on the Village Square.


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