Several complaints from UW-Superior students has encouraged the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the City of Superior to construct more sidewalks making the campus more pedestrian friendly when traveling to campus from Ross/Hawkes halls.
Fisher Avenue connects Ross-Hawkes Halls to the rest of UW-Superior’s campus. But the connection lacks pedestrian friendly path ways. It is five blocks from Ross Hall’s back parking lot (lot six) to the Library and Holden Fine Applied Arts parking lot (lot seven). During those five blocks, there is only one block that has a side walk. Although the students may walk on Catlin Avenue which has a newly constructed side walk the entire way from Ross hall to campus, Fisher Avenue is more convenient if you’re walking out the back door of Ross Hall, or if you want to avoid the high traffic area of Catlin Avenue.
Tom Fennessey the Director of Facilities said he has been meeting with the City of Superior for a year and a half to construct a sidewalk connection from Ross Hall to the rest of Campus. He continued saying that safe pedestrian traffic from the Ross and Hawkes hall down to campus is the number one goal.
Prior to this school year there wasn’t a side walk that connected campus to Ross Hall. The city and the University decided it was time to improve the campus’ sidewalks. “The city had some additional money through the Community Development Block Grant Fund,” Fennessey said. This is where the city and University had to make a decision where to use those funds.
When the City of Superior approached Fennessey about using the grant money for sidewalks, they asked what he would rather have done, Fisher, or Catlin Avenue. In order to make the most beneficial decision, the city held a public meeting asking the community to join in.
Fisher was put in the spot light as a prime location so that students could get off of the traffic heavy Catlin Ave, and walk along a more residential street. “The proposal was to put a nice wide sidewalk along there, new lighting to match the University standard and bring it right into the back of Holden Applied Arts,” Fennessey said.
Fennessey also added that if it was done the right way, with wide sidewalks, that the University would take responsibility for the snow removal even though it is considered city property.
In order for the city to construct sidewalks on Fisher Avenue, they would need the residents who live there to jump on board. However Fennessey said, “some of the neighbors were gun shy” about the Fisher Ave construction. The main reason for this was the removal of several large trees in order to construct the side walk. “Some neighbors liked it, some didn’t,” Fennessey said.
However the University and city determined that constructing sidewalks along Catlin would be the best decision, where there were partial sidewalks already. The construction on Catlin Avenue is what Fennessey referred to as “Phase One.” But the sidewalks that have been put in on Catlin aren’t wide enough for the University plow trucks to plow. As many students found out while walking from Ross Hall, at times the sidewalks didn’t get plowed at all.
Nick Stoskopf, a first year resident in Ross Hall, said “the snow removal on the sidewalks on Catlin Avenue seems to be one of the main issues of living on campus.” Stoskopf added that it made getting to school difficult, following the tracks of the pedestrians ahead of him.
Fennessey stated that the University can’t tell the residents to plow the Catlin sidewalks, but the City can. The City of Superior Public Works Department has a strict Winter Road Maintenance Policy that states “Snow removed from driveways and sidewalks is the property owners’ responsibility.”
The Policy continues to touch on sidewalk snow removal stating “Per City Ordinance, Section 28-9.1, the owner, occupant or person in charge of each and every building in the City of Superior, fronting upon or adjoining any street, and the owner or person in charge of any unoccupied building or lot fronting as aforesaid, shall clean the sidewalk in front of or adjoining such building or unoccupied lot or building, as the case may be, of snow or ice to the width of such sidewalk by 12 p.m., of each day and cause the same to be kept clear from snow or ice.” The policy states that any owner, who fails to do so, will be punished by a $100 fine.
Fennessey is still communicating with the city about the possible construction of Fisher Ave, however in order to fulfill the students requests of sidewalk, the residents will need to get together and petition the City.
Another issue that students have become concerned over is the fading paint of crosswalk, and the lack of flashing lights to highlight the crosswalk areas. The main issue is the crosswalk on N 19th St. that crosses Catlin Avenue. Vehicles are able to park on the side of the road along the MWC, but that row of cars makes it very difficult for drivers to see the students waiting to cross the road.
The city ordinance says that a car cannot park any closer than 10 feet to a cross walk, but Fennessey didn’t think that was enough. “We went to City Council to get an override, and backed it up to 20 feet, but it’s still not enough”. Although it may not be enough, the issue still lies in the city’s hands because Catlin Avenue is considered a residential city street. The city does in force parking within the restrictions, but in order to move the closest parked vehicle back further Fennessey says it’s a process going through the City Council.