Mixed reaction to Kentwood’s plan to widen Wing Ave.

Proposals to improve road debated at Monday evening meeting

Wing Avenue, Kentwood
Wing Avenue in Kentwood. (Oct. 17, 2016)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Not everyone is on board with the proposals to improve a rural Kentwood road.

For about three years, the city has been considering widening Wing Avenue between 60th and 52nd streets and adding safety improvements.

“Unfortunately, the way the road is designed now isn’t safe for the speed that we’re required to post. You’re not able to see over certain hills and not safe to pull out of certain driveways,” Kentwood Director of Engineering & Inspections Tim Bradshaw said.

Wing Avenue, Kentwood
Potholes along Wing Avenue in Kentwood. (Oct. 17, 2016)

Many residents who live along the stretch in question are frustrated, saying the road has been neglected for years and now their homes and yards are threatened by the city’s proposals.

Some were in favor of proposed sidewalks, curbs, bike lanes and nature trails to give pedestrians safer access, while others feared those features would completely change the road’s rural character.

“You’re going to change it so drastically nobody’s going to want to live there anymore,” one resident said at a meeting Monday night seeking public input.

“If you put sidewalks in, what you’re doing is you’re encouraging people who aren’t residents to come down Wing Avenue and utilize this road at any time of the day or night,” another resident said.

Some were more concerned about how the road improvements would cut into their yards and space, rather than preserving trees.

“If you put in a trail, that’s going to cut into our front yard where it’s going to be 10 foot from our front windows,” one resident said.

Bradshaw said safety is the city’s top priority, as is preserving as much of the natural landscape as possible.

“I have yet to see a tree that I wouldn’t cut down,” another resident said.

The city is also looking at working on sewer and water systems along Wing Avenue.

Kentwood has several proposals to choose from and hopes to come to a middle ground with community members. It will take feedback from Monday’s meeting and include it in a final study to present to city commission in December before any decisions are made.

Design engineering will begin in 2017 before construction can begin in 2018.