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Challenge grant to match up to $100,000 in footbridge donations

Grant will bring Footbridge Friends closer to $655,000 goal

April 23, 2013

Fox Point - An anonymous donor has issued a challenge to the village and the surrounding North Shore communities: raise $100,000 by Sept. 30 and I'll match it.

According to a news release by Footbridge Friends, the nonprofit organization tasked with raising $655,000 toward the cost of replacing the footbridge that spans a 325-foot ravine between Bridge and Bartlett lanes, the donor will match all new pledges of $5,000 or more as well as significantly increased gifts from previous donors.

"This is an incredibly generous offer that will get us closer to our goal even quicker," Footbridge Friends President Barbara Schwartz said in the release. "It allows donors to double the impact of their pledges. And the sooner we reach our goal, the sooner the Village of Fox Point can begin construction of a new bridge."

Last summer the Village Board authorized a $30,000 payment to Footbridge Friends to get the fundraising effort off the ground. The $30,000 is incorporated in the group's $655,000 goal, half of an estimated $1.25 million replacement of the footbridge.

Opponents of the project calculate that with interest on capital funds borrowed in 2011 for the project, the Footbridge Friends grant, a high estimate of the construction costs and numerous consulting studies paid for by the village since the footbridge was closed in 2010, the total cost of a replacement would be upwards of $3 million.

In March the Village Board voted to demolish the footbridge but leave key structures in place that would allow for reconstruction at a later date.

After the donor issued the challenge April 1, according to the release, an additional $20,000 in pledges were received, effectively adding $40,000 to Footbridge Friends' ledger for a total of nearly $280,000.

"While we appreciate pledges of all amounts, this particular challenge will accelerate the pace of our campaign," Schwartz said in the release. "Every new gift of $5,000 between now and September will be matched. A $10,000 pledge becomes $20,000 and so on. This provides additional motivation to donors who wish to recapture the beauty and access the bridge provides."

Schwartz added that those interested in making a pledge can call (414) 446-9501 or visit footbridgefriends.com.

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