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Bugline Trail Meeting More Than Ruffles Some Feathers

Opponents of plans to pave the recreational trail have strong words for county officials at informational meeting.

While some residents attended the meeting in favor of the Bugline Trail Improvement Project, the overwhelming majority of area resents who came were — in a word — livid.

Citizens gathered at the in Sussex Thursday evening to meet with Waukesha County parks officials and members of the project’s design team. While there was no formal presentation, about 10 informational boards lined the room outlining specifics about the project, and residents could submit their comments on paper in a comment box.

Some of the first residents at the meeting were Menomonee Falls residents Jim and Bonnie Ziolecki, and they had no problem asking the almost 10 project officials the tough questions.

“Alright, so who woke up one day and said we needed to pave this trail? Name the person,” demanded Jim Ziolecki of a county official who was obviously caught off guard by the intensity of the question. “If it was the County Board, was there a public outcry to pave the trail? Answer my question!”

The county employee explained that the 26 board members on the Waukesha County Board made the decision to start this process in 2000. He also explained that 63 percent of the project is funded by federal transportation funds which will “take it off the taxpayer’s backs.”

“If it was the County Board, was there a public outcry to pave the trail? Answer my question!”

However, this irritated Ziolecki even further, who said the grant money is technically taxpayer money, and it only covers part of the cost anyway. In total, paving the 11.6-mile stretch of the trail will cost nearly $2.4 million. Of that, $1.5 million is funded by federal funds and almost $275,000 will be funded by state grants. Waukesha County residents will be directly responsible for the rest.

Menomonee Falls resident Dot Ruta also had no problem drilling the support staff. A crowd of residents formed around her and Dave Burch, the county’s operations manager, as they discussed the various reasons why the project was being executed.

Burch explained part of the reason was for accessibility issues. The FAQ sheet handed to every visitor says in 2010, the county adopted new regulations regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning they have to make the trail usable for everyone, including those with disabilities.

“I’m an older woman, and I walk on the trail, I bike on the trail, I have no problem on this trail.” Ruta said. “This isn’t being done because everyone wants it done. This is being done for just a few people. Wow!”

Residents watching the conversation began murmuring about how they think the county is using the ADA as an excuse to do the project. Others said describing parts of the trail as “washed out and impassable” weren’t true.

“This isn’t being done because everyone wants it done. This is being done for just a few people. Wow!”

“Hmm, I haven’t seen that ever and I have lived here 35 years,” Bonnie Ziolecki said.

However, there are some residents that came to the meeting in support of the paving project. Sussex resident Scott Bielski said he bikes on the trail often, and there are benefits to paving the trail.

“I want it paved so then I can use a better bicycle without worrying about getting limestone in my gears,” Bielski said. “I use my older bike on it now and I still have to clean out the gears when I’m done… Runners talk about the paved surface being hard on their joints, but they just need to invest in better shoes.”

Other residents agreed that paving it would be better simply because the county doesn’t invest enough into maintaining the limestone gravel. Maintenance is proven to cost less annually for a paved surface, as well.

Ask questions now; rally later

While residents asked questions, one in particular was letting people know about . Menomonee Falls resident Joan Griffin, dressed in a custom neon T-shirt, stood outside the library with her supporters gathering signatures and informing people about the rally.

Surrounded by supporters, Griffin said they’ve collected more than 700 petition signatures thus far to “Save the Bugline, Don’t Pave the Bugline!” Her campaign, called “Friends of the Bugline,” is planning a rally on Saturday at noon to show support to preserve the existing Bugline trail.

The group is meeting at the Menomonee Park Group Campsite at noon on Saturday and walking, running, riding and hiking east down the trail to Menomonee Avenue. They’re hoping to show county officials how many people are against the project.

“We’re pretty much set on the process of getting this done. We’re trying to work with people, but this is happening.”

However, it could mean very little to the county.

“We’re pretty much set on the process of getting this done. We’re trying to work with people, but this is happening,” said Waukesha County Parks Manager Duane Grimm . “There are certain groups out there trying to make it stop, but we’re in the process to do this work.”

Designing the details of the trail is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The almost four-mile stretch between Highway VV in Merton to Highway 164 in Sussex will be finished in 2013, and the eight-mile stretch between Highway 164 and Highway 175 in Menomonee Falls will take place in 2014.

Joseph May 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Better shoes aren't going to help on pavement. Run on a grass trail, gravel trail, and then pavement and tell me what feels better. I would much rather run on grass than pavement. I'm guessing these people haven't run a day in their lives.
Paul Woldt May 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM
WIth all of the trees along the bugline, within a few years the roots will start to break up the asphalt, and the costs to repair the bugline will be substantial. And ultimately the repairs will not be made because they will be too costly, especially with all of the budget cuts that will be in place in the future. And we will look back at the days when the road was a smooth surface and regret this move. Finally, just because the feds are offering some money doesn't mean we have to take it. It is like buying stuff on sale so you can "save" money. FYI - I use the trail on a regular basis, and I clean my bike whether I am on the trail or on a paved road.
SenseForSussex May 11, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Another Government official that thinks that "federal transportation funds" and "state grants" are not taxpayer dollars. Unbelievable. There are pros and cons, in my opinion, to pave the bugline. In this case the cons outweigh the pros, but again that is just my opinion.
Dave May 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
We got rid of Jim Dwyer , next election will be time to get rid of more free spending board members. Can get money , must spend money is not responsible. How about paying down some debt.
Kristine May 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I agree about the tree roots causing a problem down the line. What about using "some" of the money and just improving the gravel - I walk the bugline a lot and it does get sloppy when it rains or snows.
Steve ® May 11, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Blinded by obama bucks
Jamie S May 11, 2012 at 02:30 PM
They feel the need to move forward with a county-wide paved path plan developed in 2000. They couldn't afford to do it themselves when the economy was good, and put it off. Now Obama stimulus, with all of the strings attached to it, make it OK to do in a terrible economy? The county could probably spend half of their share of this and just re-gravel the path, and say NO to the federal stimulus money. Why do they want to give more control to the Feds for county land? And they will either have to mow down 100's of oaks and hickories that are finally getting established along the trail now, or we'll certainly have the tree root issues described above. I could tell the county reps were feeling caught in their own explanations last night. Despite their "formal stance", even they know this doesn't make any sense. Pathetic.
Nick Oliver May 11, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I echo the sentiments on spending money today. My wife and kids use the bugline for biking, and love it. Apparently, from Dave Burch, this construction HAS TO BE DONE, due to ADA requirements. Although, upon further questioning he did mention that it would have to be held up if the money wasn't there to do the construction. My questions, repeatedly to them, asking why they asked for (or accepted) Fed funds were met with curious facial expressions. Two of them actually replied, "If we don't spend the money, someone else will." To which, I replied, then let them. Someone has to be the voice of reason and say no. Now, I personally don't have an issue with the bug line as it is, or as it's proposed (I don't use it enough to make a decent argument either way), but I do know that we don't have the funds to pay for projects like this today, and since we don't it should be tabled until we do (or some benefactor kicks in some cash-maybe naming rights, heh). Also, they repeatedly said it was a multi-use trail, but the design seems to it harder on runners. One more thing, one gentleman said this was not a trail, but an alternative transportation system, stating that one of the main reasons for it's existence from day one was to provide an alternate path from point A to point B.
Pete May 11, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I have a handicapped grandson and a walk from Mapleway Park to Waukesha Avenue on that paved trail is all he needs. I also take him to Frame Park in Waukesha and walk along the Fox River. I seriously doubt if we would even use the paved bugline. It always makes me laugh when these politicians say it's federal money not taxpayer funds. Those are the knuckleheads that we need to vote out of office. I always wonder where they think the money comes from.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) May 11, 2012 at 04:41 PM
FYI - I just post all of the photos I took at the meeting on Sussex Patch's Facebook page. You can see them here: http://goo.gl/7WBYm
diane brooks May 11, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I AM DISABLED MY PROPERTY RUNS RIGHT ALONG THE BUG LINE TRAIL IN MENOMONEE FALLS AND I USE IT ALL THE IT IS ACCESSIBLE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITY'S I AM VERY FAMILIAR WITH PERSONS WITH DISABILITY'S AND HAVE A LIFE TIME OF CARING FOR SOMEONE THAT WAS DISABLED AND THE BUG LINE IS A GREAT ESCAPE INTO NATURE THAT A PERSON WITH DISABILITIES CAN ACCESS I LOVE TO TAKE SHORT RIDES OR WALKS ON THE BEAUTIFUL NATURAL BUG LINE "LEAVE IT JUST THE WAY IT IS"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DIANE
Steve ® May 11, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I love the photoshop job of the picture in the winter with snowmelt on the limestone surface. Then magically it is paved, still winter but the grass is green and the leaves are on the trees. I know it's Wisconsin but with all this global warmings we need to be worried about this path's effects. Snow in the summer? Recall the bugline trail project.
Billy Tank May 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Love the improved trail idea. Let's plow it inthe winter!! Would be great to ride and walk all year!!!!!!!
Joan Griffin May 12, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Getting involved to "Save the Bugline, Don't Pave the Bugline" has been a lot of work, but meeting all the wonderful citizens at the meeting last night and now reading the comments here makes it all worth it! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I have been saying all along that persons in wheelchairs could use the trail if they wanted to, but DO they want to? It's great to hear from people with special needs who choose not to use the trail and from those who have no problem using the trail. And, Billy, if you think the county is going to plow the trail, think again! They can't afford it AND the snowmobilers are grandfathered in to using the trail and will continue to use the trail, paved or not! I am excited about our "Rally for the Bugline!" tomorrow. Let's have a really big turnout!
Unions_NO May 13, 2012 at 12:51 AM
When I ride, in some places I have to "duck" because they don't maintain the trimming of the trees that will hit you in the face...and we are to believe they are going to maintain the asphalt...I still want to know, ....WHO, FINANCIALLY BENEFITS FROM THE BUILDING OF THIS TRAIL??? Who has the contract? THAT is where the real story will be.
Unions_NO May 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Considering how long it takes to plow the side streets...you REALLY think they are going to plow the trail on a regular basis...???
Luke May 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM
@Nick I would ask them if they would accept a free car that needed constant repairs and extra maintenance as a substitute for the one they already own. However, I suspect they would accept such a car, if and only if the residents of Sussex had to pay for the extra expense on their behalf.
For the love of Lisbon May 13, 2012 at 05:26 PM
If you want paved bike trails may I suggest moving to Milwaukee. People moved here from the city because we like the way it is. I cannot stand people moving to the area and trying to change the area into what we all moved away from.
For the love of Lisbon May 13, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Gotta love the mentality of the county official that thinks Federal funds are not taxpayer money. This mentally ill way of thinking is ruining the entire country and has even seeped into small communities like ours.
Angie May 15, 2012 at 12:21 PM
I don't really see what the big deal is.  I mean, we live in the burbs, not the boonies, of course it's like second nature to pave things. Hello, this is a metropolis!!!  Probably they could use the money more wisely, like funding education in some poor area, but this is just a case of comparably well-off people complaining about having too much money, boo hoo!!!  At least your politicians want to spend money on you, and don't pocket it in some corrupt way.  I say just feel lucky and get over it......I like y'all spirit though.
Nick Oliver May 15, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Angie, attitudes like yours are why we are in this mess in the first place. "Feel lucky and get over it." Really? No, we don't count ourselves lucky when our "leaders" want to spend 2.5 MILLION dollars (that we don't have--in case you weren't aware, the country is in debt) to make a stretch of trail better for a few people. It was bad enough at the meeting with them saying that if they didn't take the money, someone else would. Those are ignorant arguments, and anyone EVER utters them, should be removed from office that very minute.
Doug Bath May 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM
the world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful ee cummings
For the love of Lisbon May 15, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Angie The root of your problem lies in your opening sentence. You don't see. When your maturity level exceeds that of an average 12 year old please contact me and we can have a conversation. Until then I will simply wait for yout to grow and wise up.
Angie May 16, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Dan says: " I cannot stand people moving to the area and trying to change [it] into what we all moved away from." Now this shows your immaturity, Dan, cause change is the only constant, and this and every area will eventually change. If you don't like it, why don't you give the land back to the Native Americans.
For the love of Lisbon May 16, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Angie is about as bright as a 12 watt bulb which coincidentally matches her age. Come back when you grow up and have respect for adults. Until then run along little girl.
Angie May 16, 2012 at 01:45 AM
If that is an official welcome to the patch, I'll take it! ;)
Doug Bath May 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
"Runners talk about the paved surface being hard on their joints, but they just need to invest in better shoes" Please stick to biking advice Scott. That's not really going to work for most people. We do need some unpaved surfaces to run on. I understand you want to bike fast on the Bugline. And I have no doubt that there will soon be guys biking 25 miles per hour buzzing strollers. But runners cannot simply run in poofy shoes or zero drop barely there shoes and have the pounding of pavement go away. It really doesn't work that way for most people.
Rick Schnell October 15, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Just wait until the snowmobiles (with carbide studded tracks) tear up that new trail surface. It will be rough like gravel again. Michigan has that problem with their paved multi-use trails. Oh, and the regulations about 4" of snow on the trail before snowmobiling? With that black paved surface, any thin snow layers will melt even faster. Can't believe the snowmobilers didn't put up more of a fight. The white gravel base was an excellent base material under the snow for snowmobiling. (I'm not a snowmobiler) I loved the trail the way it was. The only people happy about this are the paving contractors.

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