Taxpayer group wants Fox Point to fund footbridge survey to gauge public support

Feb. 19, 2013

Fox Point - The newly formed Fox Point Taxpayers Alliance wants the village to fund a survey to definitely answer whether residents support repairing or replacing the footbridge which spans the ravine between Bridge and Barnett lanes.

The three-officer group composed of vocal footbridge project opponents Larry Booth, Anne Sachse, and Bob Corey recently sent a letter to Village President Michael West, detailing a request for a village-wide survey at a cost of $12,500.

"In the interest of fairness, citizen participation and the obligation of government to abide by the will of the people, we request that you afford us the same treatment as Footbridge Friends and agree to fund a taxpayer survey conducted by the Fox Point Taxpayers Alliance," Booth wrote in the Feb. 15 letter.

In the letter, Booth requests the Village Board field a presentation from the FPTA at its upcoming March 12 meeting before taking up the request.

Booth said in a phone interview that his background in corporate communications and public opinion research, combined with the groundwork of Sachse's Brand X Advertising firm, will help the group carry out the survey. The request includes $2,500 for writing and designing a questionnaire, $4,500 for printing and postage, and $5,500 in marketing costs to bolster participation - though Booth said the amounts are estimates and could change before the March meeting.

Booth estimates the group could have surveys out into the community with two to three weeks of the March board meeting with returns and results by late April to early May.

"The board has refused repeatedly to hold a referendum or survey Fox Point residents," Booth said. "When you're spending that much money in a small village like this you have to have an understanding of what residents want."

Trustee William Warner, who has advocated for a footbridge referendum at past board meetings, said he supports the idea of the survey at face value. However, trustees have said that the Footbridge Friends fundraising campaign itself serves as a gauge of public support, which Warner said could make the FPTA's proposed survey redundant.

"(The fundraising) is where we're at now," said Warner. "I don't know how long we'll wait (for the campaign). We'll wait and see what the March (fundraising) report says."

Trustee Douglas H. Frazer, on the other hand, opposes the survey outright. Frazer wrote in an email to NOW that, though the board respects Booth's point of view, over the years trustees have made their policy decisions when it comes to the footbridge.

"The board has little time to waste," wrote Frazer. "Revisiting proposals the board has already carefully considered, including the idea of a survey or a referendum, should require more than the fact that Mr. Booth and his several friends disagree with the board's actions."

Village President Michael West was unavailable for comment.

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