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To vacate or not to vacate – an alley

W’bago City Council hears reasons both why and why not to do it

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Nov 15, 2020

City Council members Calvin Howard and Paul Eisenmenger listened to debate on a proposal to vacate an alley.

To vacate or not to vacate? That was the question put before the Winnebago City Council during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

A public hearing was held during the meeting to gather input from those for and against the vacation of an alley located on Block 31 at Third and Fourth Avenue SW.

The Winnebago Planning Commission had recommended a vacation of the west half of the alley and having the city of Winnebago procure an easement of five feet on properties owned by Bart Bartholmey and Bruce and Kris Sonnicksen to extend an area for a turn-around.

The owners of properties who favored the vacation were Robert and Julie Osborn, Bruce and Kris Sonnicksen, Zac and Amy Bartlett and Juan Adams.

“Nobody really uses the alley,” Robert Osborn asserted.

That statement brought a response from Bartholmey.

“I drive my pickup and trailer through there,” he stated.

“But not that often,” was Osborn’s reply.

“But I do use it,” Bartholmey countered.

The affected parties spent some time showing council members maps of the alley in question.

A concern was also raised that it would be safer for children if the alley were abandoned.

Those in favor of vacating the alley were asked what they would do if it were vacated.

Some said they would plant grass and maybe a garden.

“If the alley is vacated, I would like to build a new house,” Osborn stated.

Council member Paul Eisenmenger pointed out there were utilities buried in the alley.

“I work for a utility company and I can tell you the day is coming when those utilities will have to be dug up for some reason,” Eisenmenger explained.

There were other concerns raised by council members.

“Once you give up an alley, you never get it back,” Eisenmenger offered. “I would not be happy to lose my alley.”

Mayor Jeremiah Schutt asked three times if any council member wished to make a motion to vacate the alley and no one spoke up.

Possible legal action was brought up by one of the property owners, but for now the alley will remain as part of Block 31.