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April 23, 2014

Public Forum:

I'm one of the many residents who opposed Fox Point's controversial "Footbridge to Nowhere." We believed it was an extravagant and unnecessary expenditure for a small village like Fox Point. We lost that argument. Life will go on.

Having said that, the Fox Point Village Board's conduct in this matter was appalling. They not only broke a promise they made to taxpayers two years ago about how the footbridge would be paid for, they shamefully misled the public about the true cost of the project. It is not going to be $876,500. Not even close.

A search of public records shows the total cost of the footbridge project will be $1,701,000. And the price tag could go even higher, as construction projects of this type typically do. Wealthy neighbors who live in the neighborhood around the footbridge have said they will try to raise $515,000 of the cost. Fair enough. But even if they are successful, Fox Point taxpayers will still have to cough up at least $1,186,000. That is a long way from the 50/50 public/private partnership the village board promised residents two years ago.

The unfortunate truth about this footbridge debate is that it was never about the facts or the cost. It was always about who wielded the most political influence. In this case it was a handful of wealthy, well-connected footbridge proponents, not the other 6,600 taxpayers. That fact was made crystal clear at the April 8 Village Board meeting when one of the board members, while commenting on the relationship between the board and the leaders of the footbridge proponents, referred to them as "our friends." And therein lies the problem for taxpayers.

Larry Booth

Fox Point

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