Bike commission proposal earns city planner support

By Brandi Makuski

The bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee should become a formal city commission, or be dissolved, according to a city planner.

Associate Planner Kyle Kearns, who works in the community development department and regularly attends BPAC meetings, drafted a two-page memo to the city’s public protection committee, in which he outlined his concerns for leaving BPAC as is.

“Limited authority of BPAC undermines BPAC actions, and further erodes implementation efforts which need city participation,” Kearns’ memo read in part. “It is my opinion that BPAC should operate similar to other city commissions/committees, or dissolve.”

Kearns, who regularly attends BPAC meetings, said the committee isn’t recognized under city ordinance, and the lack of formal acknowledgement often means BPAC members carry a heavier workload than they would if they were a formal commission.

Under a March proposal from Councilwoman Tori Jennings, BPAC would become the bicycle‐pedestrian street safety commission (BPSC). Under the new organization, Jennings said, the group would have more authority to carry out projects, with assistant from city staff.

“…the notable success of BPAC obscures the ongoing challenges this committee faces in light of its ambiguous ‘citizen advisory’ status and lack of formal staff oversight,” Jennings wrote in a memo to the public protection committee in March.

Mayor Mike Wiza created BPAC shortly after being elected in 2015, saying he felt the city needed more input from bicycle enthusiasts. BPAC was intended, he said, to be “advisory only” to the city plan commission.

In March, Wiza said he felt the change would unnecessarily expand municipal government’s footprint, adding more workload for departments that already have a heavy workload.

But in his two-page memo, Kearns said the benefits of having BPAC have been “tremendous” for the city, and deserves to have its actions and proposals held to the same standard as other formal committees.

Kearns also pointed to a 2008 document created by the city outlining its future plans for sustainability, which included the creation of a bicycle/pedestrian advisory committee for the purpose of implementing the city’s portion of the countywide bike/ped plan.

“Flaws exist within the current operational structure that could be improved with a new structure,” Kearns’ memo reads. “Yet, this transformation of BPAC may reflect significant changes on staff and department operations, which must also be weighed.”

Committee meetings begin at 6 p.m. inside the Community Room of the Stevens Point Police Dept., 933 Michigan Ave. in Stevens Point. The public is welcome to attend.