15 Sep 2014
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Yorkville Mulls Route 47 Bike Path 'Quagmire'

State officials warn removing paths could delay funding for road widening.

Yorkville Mulls Route 47 Bike Path 'Quagmire'

Yorkville leaders have a few months to decide if they want to delay the Route 47 widening project by rejecting the bike trails state officials included in construction plans.

Yorkville City Council members discussed the issue again at their meeting Tuesday.

Two weeks ago they would deny an $116,000 donation if private citizens raised that amount as the city’s 20 percent share of the cost for including 2.44 miles of trails in the widening project.

Since then, state officials would charge the city $30,000 for new engineering work if city officials pulled the paths from the project. State officials also indicated that removing the paths could delay the project six to nine months and jeopardize its funding.

State officials currently are moving forward with plans to include the trails unless they hear otherwise from Yorkville officials, City Administrator Bart Olson said. They will expect a final decision by September.

Mayor Gary Golinski said he didn’t want  see anything delay the project but asked aldermen for their thoughts.

Ward 4 Alderman Rose Spears said she was unaware of the $30,000 potential cost earlier. She reiterated, however, that voters twice declined to give city officials permission to increase taxes to pay for the city’s portion of the bike paths. The state would supply the other 80 percent of the costs.

She criticized the role of union supporters from outside Yorkville in circulating petitions to put the second referendum on the ballot. She also criticized Todd Milliron, who doesn’t live in Yorkville, for speaking in support of the bike trails during public comment.

She emphasized that nonresidents would not have to pay for the bike paths.

“I am just so tired of what has been going on,” Spears said. “Twice the residents voted no. We get nonresidents in here talking about what we should do for our town.”

Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling, who spearheaded efforts to privately raise the city’s match, said those efforts didn’t get beyond the planning stages before other aldermen nixed them.

But Ward 1 Alderman Carlo Colosimo said he doubted the private funding would materialize.

“I find it very difficult to believe you can raise that amount of money in that short of time,” Colosimo said.

Colosimo characterized the situation as a "quagmire," since he said most residents support the widening project. He invited residents to contact him with their views in light of the new information but stated that the majority of the residents he talked with recently weren’t in favor of the trails.

“If we’re not going to listen to the residents,” Colosimo said, “why are we even mocking them and putting it on the referendum?”

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