Ellsworth Village Board talks winter parking, street improvements and more

By Andrew Harrington
Posted 7/3/24

ELLSWORTH — Winter parking regulations, the Grant and Piety Street improvements and increasing sewer rates were all on the table as the Ellsworth Village Board and Water and Sewer Committee …

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Ellsworth Village Board talks winter parking, street improvements and more


ELLSWORTH — Winter parking regulations, the Grant and Piety Street improvements and increasing sewer rates were all on the table as the Ellsworth Village Board and Water and Sewer Committee both met Monday.

The village board unanimously (with the exception of Trustee Lance Austin, who was absent) approved the acceptance of a bid from Albrightson Excavating for the Grant and Piety Street improvement projects, which came in at $5,047,460.17.

The project, which also includes Strickland Street and a portion of Woodworth Street from Grant to Chestnut, saw a lot of discussion in recent days, with Woodworth Street, which was initially going to be narrowed after a committee decision back on May 6, being the topic of discussion.

Ellsworth Community School District bus drivers spoke up about the narrowing, with a primary concern being a potential “bottleneck” for bus drivers with St. Francis located on the road. The committee ultimately decided to recommend a change order to keep the width as close to what it currently is while still meeting all standards and regulations.

The village board approved the committee’s recommendation. The change to re-widen the road will operate as a change order, and the village will notify the contractor.

Board Trustee Tom Schutz asked Director of Public Works Brad Vick why the village needed to replace the four-inch water lines with eight-inch water lines, which is a cause of Woodworth Street being included in the project.

“Cause it’s a four-inch pipe and the state doesn’t want four-inch water mains in the ground anymore,” Vick said. “Not only that, but that eight-inch being tied in through that Woodworth area, if we have a break on Chestnut Street, we can isolate that and still open up Grant Street and that will supply the water coming on Piety so you have enough to feed the school.”

During the June 27 Street and Sidewalk Committee meeting, it was brought up by a resident that Woodworth and Strickland were not included in agendas that included the project, with it simply being called Grant and Piety Street improvements. Village President Becky Beissel clarified during the Village Board meeting by listing the previous notifications and information sent out about the project, including newsletters, a special assessment notice to property owners and in the newspaper, meeting minutes posted in the newspaper and Facebook weekly roundups.


Winter Parking

After some discussion, the board voted 4-1 (Ryan Bench opposed and Austin absent) against changing winter parking regulations. The village currently operates on a system of no parking on the street from Nov. 1-March 31 between 2 and 6 a.m.

According to village documents, the Street and Sidewalk Committee recommended no change during the June 11 meeting.

“We want streets to be cleaned as efficiently as possible for our own budgetary purpose and our own convenience factor, and I don’t foresee changing it to anything else helping that,” Trustee Andrew Borner said. “I already get complaints about streets not getting cleaned fast enough, I think anything else would just extend it.”

Bench, the lone trustee to vote against the regulations staying put, advocated for a snow emergency system in which the village can put out an alert for people that would let people know they need to remove their car from the street in the event of snow.

One of the issues brought up with Bench’s idea is the difficulty of making sure everyone sees the message and gets their car off the road before the designated time.

“I understand that it would be a big change for the village, and the potential of having to plow around vehicles and things like that,” Bench said. “I’d like to see more added flexibility if we’re not going to go with a change.”

Bench also proposed the idea of keeping the current system, but giving the village board jurisdiction to suspend it for a week or two at a time in instances of mild winters including the most recent one.

Attorney Bob Loberg said that system could become complex, as it does not have a clear-cut system for when the suspension would go into place and the weather can be unpredictable. Loberg did say if the item returned to committee, a less arbitrary suspension process could be brought into play.

The idea of increasing fines for violation of the winter parking regulations from $10 to a higher number like $100 was floated around, but no action was taken on it. The reasoning behind the idea was to get people to adhere to regulations, as some felt a $10 fine is not enough to do so.

Water and Sewer Committee

Prior to the Village Board meeting, the Water and Sewer Committee heard a presentation on sewer utility rate increases. The presentation showed a 30.6% increase to the rates, which Brian Roemer of Ehlers Public Finance Advisors said would come out to an average increase of about $13 per quarter on residential bills. No action was taken on the item, it was strictly informational.

The fixed charge would increase from $33.80 to about $44 and the volumetric charge would increase from an average of just under $6 to $7.76.

“Thirty percent obviously does sound daunting,” Roemer said. “The dollar change though is much less than that.”

Other business

  • Amended the boundaries of Tax Incremental District No. 7 and established the boundaries of Tax Incremental District No. 13. “The Village seeks to subtract parcels from TID No. 7 in order to create a new Tax Increment District No. 13 (TID No. 13) in order to incentivize new development on the subject parcels,” village documents state.
  • Approved $15,000 in Ellsworth Public Library spending from a Pierce County Public Health grant for Outdoor Space Enhancement. The library will use the funds on outdoor furniture.
  • Approved a temporary “Class B” Premise Extension for The Thirsty Badger for a food truck parked near the patio on July 11, Aug. 15 and Sept. 12, and a temporary “Class B” Beer and Wine license for the Funsters of Ellsworth.
  • Approved a trio of Certified Survey Maps.
Ellsworth Village Board, winter parking regulations, Grant and Piety Street improvements, sewer rates, Ellsworth, Wisconsin