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Fox Point to replace footbridge after years of debate

Span is expected to cost $876K, including $515K from fundraising group

In this 2010 photo, the Bridge Lane Ravine footbridge was still open. It was later closed due to structural issues. After four years of debate, the Fox Point Village Board on Tuesday decided to go ahead with the reconstruction project.

In this 2010 photo, the Bridge Lane Ravine footbridge was still open. It was later closed due to structural issues. After four years of debate, the Fox Point Village Board on Tuesday decided to go ahead with the reconstruction project. Photo By Michael Sears

April 9, 2014

After years of heated public meetings, the Fox Point Village Board has decided to build a new footbridge on Bridge Lane.

Trustees on Tuesday night accepted the lowest project bid of $876,496, with the understanding that Footbridge Friends, a non-profit group tasked with raising 50 percent of the funds, will contribute $515,000 to the effort.

The board approved the construction bid and contribution guidelines on a 6-1 vote, with Trustee William Werner casting the only vote in opposition

The contribution from Footbridge Friends would make good on a promise from two years ago, when the group offered to pay for half of the bridge construction costs. The group's contribution would also reimburse the village for the $30,000 loan it received from the village to help them launch their fundraising effort.

Footbridge Friends President Barbara Schwartz said the group has $201,313 on hand right now, but expects to have another $50,000 by late spring and another $100,000 by the end of the year. She said she has firm pledges that total $515,000.

Schwartz said she was pleased with the board's decision, and moved by the generosity of those who made donations to Footbridge Friends.

"I'm delighted and encouraged and thrilled," she said. "People have worked very hard on this project, and I'm delighted it's going to move forward."

However, the project's opponents raised concerns that Footbridge Friends does not have all of the money in the bank, so they questioned what would happen if future pledges don't materialize.

"What if the fundraisers fail to come up with payments," resident Bob Cory asked. "Are they personally on the hook? Do they sell their homes to come up with the payments?"

Trustee Eric Fonstad said the village should trust Footbridge Friends to contribute the remaining funds.

"I know (the fundraising effort) has been difficult, and I and the other trustees have insisted that the Footbridge Friends follow through on their efforts," he said. "It's the nature of this undertaking to have a mutual trust, and it's the kind of thing we're going to have to continue to rely upon going forward."

The original cost-share agreement called on Footbridge Friends to pay $625,000 — which was the estimated halfway mark, based on wide-ranging construction estimates available at the time of the agreement in 2012. Schwartz verbally committed Footbridge Friends to pay $515,000, slightly more than required in the most recent cost-share agreement for $509,348.

The first payment of $200,000 is due by April 25. It willl be followed by payments of $150,000 due by Sept. 5; $95,000 by Sept. 5, 2015; $48,000 by Sept. 5, 2016; and $16,348 by Sept. 5, 2017.

Village Engineer Scott Brandmeier estimated that eight weeks of construction work will be needed to prepare for the installation of the mostly prefabricated footbridge elements atop the revamped supports. The bridge materials, from Janke General Contractors, are expected to arrive in late July or early August. It will then take two to three weeks to install.

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