Letter: If needed, roundabouts and bike lanes should wait until after crisis

To the Editor-

While America’s Dairyland may be known for its beautiful forests and enthusiasm for all things cheese, sadly, more and more people are moving out of Wisconsin. In fact, one study showed that almost 10,000 more residents left the state than moved into the state in 2010, which has only increased in subsequent years.

This can be an alarming fact for residents, as it has a direct impact on the amount of tax revenue that’s used to pay for state services.

Wisconsin ranks fifth in the nation regarding taxes, placing a staggering 11 percent tax on its residents.

Because this extra cost burdens the daily lives of those living in the state, more and more people are choosing to leave Wisconsin for lower tax rates and higher salaries. In some cases, a single factor can pull residents out of Wisconsin, such as climate, job market, and tax rate. It’s easy to see why multiple factors are driving people out of the state.

In the most recent magazine from WEA (Wisconsin Education Association), the headline of one of their articles says: “Financial tips to fight against formidable times” and goes on to say, “The pandemic has changed our way of living and has led many people to reevaluate their financial priorities. More than one in three Americans say they have been saving less since the pandemic started. And, unfortunately, another one-third say they have turned to their savings or retirement accounts just to pay their bills, (Pew Research). Life as we once knew it has disappeared and most people are feeling financially unprepared.”

We do not need a city government to be planning road renovations with spectacular costs to the city residents.

The city website shows graphs with no facts in order to accomplish unneeded repairs/redos. One sentence stands out: “Business 51 north of Ellis St. has a higher rate of crashes and injuries than 95% of similar roads in Wisconsin.” Not one single word to substantiate such a sentence.

So, I went to the police department and submitted a request for all the accidents this past year from Ellis St. to North Point Dr. (the roundabout). The results weren’t as scary as the above sentence wanted you to think. There were 53 accidents. That works out to be about 1 accident per week. It doesn’t tell about fender benders.

The sentence under the cartoon didn’t tell where on Division St. these stats included (just north of Ellis St.). I did not count accidents in parking lots or an accident with a deer or dog.

Another scary cartoon included the kinds of accidents: rear end, left turn, sideswipe, and T-bone. How many were caused by inattentive drivers, inexperienced drivers, DUI’s, or youth driving beyond the curfew? To make comparatives work, you must compare apples to apples.

Is this dangerous road comparable in ALL ways: number of blocks counted, a university town, equal traffic volume, a highway, road used by emergency vehicles regularly, student crossings at many corners, same number traffic lights, and equal population. When you want to get fair and accurate information, you need to use facts, not words of fear with no compelling stats. It’s similar to a court of law. State the facts only.

Back to the multiple reasons for this letter. We are in a global financial crisis. All non-essential plans should be put on the back burner.

The plans have included medians, roundabouts, bike lanes, a road diet that will take away one lane in each direction, going north and south, and other non-essential ideas that will be costly to the property owners, yet, the city website hasn’t mentioned once how much the increases will affect our property taxes.

One council member said, “It will be great.”

It is also a year to vote for some council members. Do you want to have people who refuse to be held accountable to represent you? As far as I know, we are, or should be, a democracy. Transparency should be the most important qualification of our representatives.

Instead, we are subject to secrecy and undeserved, and unwelcome, high property taxes.

Ruth Pfiffner
Stevens Point

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