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Group presents 710 signatures to board



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This is the village board's plan.

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Rasmussen (click for larger version)

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Johnson
June 19, 2012 | 04:58 PM
WALWORTH — Village board members were quick to dismiss petitions with more than 700 signatures opposing its plan for Highway 14.

Louise Czaja presented the petitions — 69 different petitions with 710 signatures — to the village board during its Monday meeting and board members immediately began questioning what information was presented to people signing it.

Czaja said the people who collected the signatures read the petition to citizens before they signed it and showed them a picture of the village's proposed plan for Highway 14.

"We, the undersigned residents of the village of Walworth, do not support the proposed relocation of Highway 14 through the Walworth Grade School parking lot," the petition states. "We further object to the expense incurred in said relocation including and not limited to, the demolition of existing buildings and any loss or reconfiguration of the Heyer Park property."

Village President David Rasmussen said discussion on the petitions will be on the village's July agenda, and he invited those who collected signatures to attend that meeting.

However, Rasmussen was also immediately critical of the wording of the petition because all of the proposed plans would require demolishing the Antique Mall. He added some of the other plans require additional buildings to be razed.

"It doesn't matter which plan it is, the building is coming down," he said in reference to the Antique Mall.

He said the state's other plans require portions of Heyer Park to be removed and traffic would continue to travel around all sides of the square.

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"The state would take away all the angle parking," Rasmussen said. "With those plans you could kiss Sammy's (diner) goodbye."

He also was critical because those circulating the petition didn't show signees the other options that were presented to the board.

Trustee Kent Johnson said considering the petitions wording he would have expected more signatures.

"I'm surprised you didn't get more," Johnson said. "Was there a problem getting people to sign it? My wife even signed it and she knows the full story."

After the meeting, Czaja said she was looking forward to the July meeting when her group would present more information to the village board.

When asked about her groups plans she said she didn't want to comment.

In response to Rasmussen's criticism that the other plans weren't presented, Czaja said the group was focused on the approved village board and plan commission plan.

Outside of the meeting, plan commissioner Joyce Pagel told Czaja that she has studied the plan and believes the village's plan is the safest.

When Czaja was asked about Pagel's position she responded, "We have 710 people who didn't think it was."

After the meeting, Johnson said he "believes the people who signed the petition were really not well informed."

"The village board didn't have much of a choice because there is not going to be a bypass," he said.

During the village's plan commission meeting, which immediately followed the board meeting, commissioners briefly discussed the petition.

During that discussion, Trustee Dennis Vanderbloemen said he saw a petition at the Walworth Memorial Library, which he didn't feel was appropriate.

Rasmussen said he also didn't think it was appropriate that the issue has been discussed in a newletter that was put out by the Walworth School District.

Mystery correspondence

During the meeting, Rasmussen said he received a letter from State Sen. Neal Kedzie and State Rep. Tyler August thanking him for his correspondence regarding the Highway 14 issue.

In the letter, the state representatives invited Rasmussen to meet with them to further discuss the Department of Transportation's plans for the highway.

However, Rasmussen said he hasn't written to Kedzie or August regarding the issue. But, he said, he would take advantage of a meeting with the two to push for a Highway 14 bypass.

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