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June 23, 2018

6/12/2018 7:28:00 AM
Presque Isle and Boulder Junction: A failure to communicate
At its regular meeting last Thursday evening, the Presque Isle Town Board authorized chairman Marshall Reckard to resume negotiations with the Town of Boulder Junction over the cost incurred when Boulder contractors reconstructed a portion of a Presque Isle road without permission.

Boulder Junction is undertaking a massive $5 million construction project on roughly 50 miles of its town roads.

Most of High Lake Road sits within Boulder Junction, but at one point, the road oxbows around a lake into Presque Isle before it doubles back into Boulder Junction.

The entirety of High Lake Road was reconstructed - including the stretch in Presque Isle - with permission being neither asked nor granted.

At a road improvement committee meeting on May 17, Boulder Junction town chairman Dennis Reuss informed members he would approach Reckard with a request for compensation for the unauthorized work.

The two chairmen have been in touch, but they have not yet reached an agreement.

"They want us to pay for part of that construction," Reckard told the Presque Isle board. "The town chairman sent me a printout requesting a payment of $26,950. I told him that's too expensive."

"My problem is that the DOT (Department of Transportation) says we have three-tenths of a mile," Reckard reported saying to Reuss. "You want to bill me for four-tenths of a mile, OK?"

"When I figure it out, it comes out - the three-tenths of a mile - to be somewhat less," Reckard said.

In addition to pricing, financing will also be an issue for the towns to resolve.

On that front, Reckard informed Reuss "You have another problem: my road construction budget is already out, OK? So if I come up with some numbers, you might have to wait until next year to get the dollars."

Supervisors Cathy Logan Weber and Carl Wolter were in support of Reckard rejecting the request for $26,950 and granted him permission to renegotiate for a lesser amount.

"If you don't have any problem," Reckard told them, "I'm going to go back with them and say 'This is what I'll pay, but we're probably not going to pay until next year.'"

"I will negotiate further with the town chairman over there," Reckard said. "If we have disagreements, I'll come back to you guys."

In other business

• The board considered options for the public boat landing on County Trunk Highway P.

Safety complaints have been registered to the board, including one from Reckard, about the potential for collisions between vehicles on P and those entering and exiting the landing where the speed limit is 55 MPH and the highway curves.

Reckard requested a lower speed limit for that particular stretch of road, but he was denied by both the Vilas County Safety Committee and Highway Commission, the reason being there has been an "insignificant number of accidents" in that area.

"We shouldn't wait until someone gets killed or hurt to do something," Reckard told the board.

Options the board may consider include instituting parking bans on one or both sides of the highway, placing advisory and cautionary signs to warn about the danger, closing the boat landing completely, or taking no action at all.

• The board is also considering supplying canoes and kayaks for pubic use in town parks, but Reckard wants to see detailed plans for administration of the program, maintenance of the equipment, and liability restrictions before moving the project forward.

Fred Williston may be reached via email at fredw@lakelandtimes.com.

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