Footbridge Friends Inc.
Capital Campaign FAQs

1.    Where is the Fox Point footbridge?

The footbridge spans the ravine between Bridge and Barnett Lanes in Fox Point, east of Lake Drive and north of Green Tree Road. It provides back-and-forth access between one of the easternmost lanes in the village and the other neighborhoods in the village and the North Shore.
2.    Why does the footbridge need to be replaced?

The footbridge, built nearly 100 years ago, has experienced age-related deterioration and is at the end of its useful life. It does not meet modern construction and load standards.  You can learn more about its structural deficiencies and see photos that illustrate these flaws on the Village of Fox Point Web page.

3.    Why can’t the current footbridge be repaired?

Village studies have suggested that the footbridge is so structurally unsound that repair would cost nearly as much as replacement and would not bring it up to current safety standards.  A private study done in 2011 estimated repair costs to be less than the replacement costs; however, that study did not take into account the need to replace the concrete piers at the bottom of the ravine. The private study did confirm that a repair option likely would not bring the structure up to current safety standards.

There is a belief that if money is to be spent on an already compromised structure, it might be better to replace it with one that will not need repairs again in the near future.
4.    What will happen to the trees and foliage in the ravine during construction?

This will be an environmentally-friendly project. Village Board members have publicly committed to construction methods that would have the least possible impact upon the trees and vegetation in and near the ravine. One consulting firm hired by the Village Board demonstrated three different construction methods that would impact as few trees as possible during construction by using cranes positioned on either side of the ravine to lift components over the trees.  Additionally, the Village Board has directed that plans be drawn up for a footbridge made with environmentally friendly and recycled materials that would not need regular upkeep.

5.    Why should I care about a footbridge over the ravine?

  • For decades, thousands of hikers, bicycle riders and dog walkers from all over the village have used the footbridge – for some, every day, year round. You may be one of them.  People have missed it since it was closed by the village in October 2010 for safety reasons.

  • The bridge offers all residents an up-close-and-personal opportunity to enjoy the flora, fauna and the impressive depth of one of the ravines that distinguish the lake shore. Since the footbridge is a public place, it is open to everyone. The footbridge is also one of the few places in the village where residents can appreciate a view of Lake Michigan.

  • It is a sentimental place for many villagers. Couples have become engaged there. People pray there.  A local team rallied before games there.  It’s used as a place for graduation, wedding and engagement photos.  Perhaps more than anything, the bridge is used by families: for evening strolls, Sunday afternoon bicycle rides, early morning walks with the dog. Some residents recall being shown the bridge by their grandparents – and it’s now a place where they take their own children.  Village children miss the bridge. Some even volunteered to raise funds to fix it by running lemonade stands!

  • A footbridge over the ravine significantly supports the Fox Point Village Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2010. The footbridge:
    • Preserves and enhances the residential character of the village.
    • Preserves and enhances the lakefront and ravine areas as significant village amenities.
    • Supports the unique cultural and historic features of Fox Point consistent with the residential character of the village.
    • Encourages neighborhood designs that support a range of transportation choices.
    • Improves pedestrian and bicycle circulation throughout the village.
    • Maintains the character of existing residential neighborhoods.
    • Supports current land uses in the village.
    • Maintains existing neighborhood pathway connections between residential areas and commercial areas, schools, community park spaces, and wooded areas.

6.    Why has this been a hot-button issue in recent months?

Many Fox Point residents love the bridge, the access it provides in our community and how it enhances our village quality of life. Dozens have shown their support by attending Village Board meetings over the last two years and by sharing their support in letters and conversations with village officials. Other village residents have been outspoken at more recent Village Board meetings, opposing the investment of village funds to repair or replace the footbridge.  While the Footbridge Friends respects their right to speak out, we believe we the financial pledges we obtain will show a high level of support for the footbridge in the community. We respect the desire of all residents to keep costs under control and see this fundraising effort as a means to significantly reduce the impact of a new footbridge on all taxpayers. This type of public/private partnership is becoming increasingly common in communities across the nation seeking to maintain amenities that make them unique.

7.    Doesn’t the footbridge just serve two private neighborhoods in the village?

The footbridge serves as a significant thoroughfare for walkers, runners and bike riders from Fox Point and beyond.  It’s not out of reach for any village resident – only 1.5 miles from the far northeast corner of  Fox Point, the furthest distance from the structure within the village limits.  Friends members have also heard from people all over the North Shore and the community at large who miss the bridge.  Last but not least, the footbridge plays a significant role in carrying out the village’s Comprehensive Plan, which serves all village residents. All citizens do not use every amenity equally; however, these amenities collectively create a community in which we love to live. It’s shortsighted to fund only the amenities that we personally use. This attitude erodes the fabric of our community. 

8.    How much will the project cost?

In April, a Village Board resolution estimated the cost of the construction at $1.5 million. This would pay for a bridge that is 300 feet long, over a ravine that is 95 feet deep.  It will cost about $250,000 to demolish the current bridge – an expense the village will incur no matter if it builds a replacement or not. That leaves about $1.25 million for construction.  The board also requested in April that about $625,000, or approximately one half of the $1,250,000 construction cost, be raised privately.

Fundraising costs will need to be added to this amount.  The Friends aim to keep the costs within industry standards, or 13% of campaign goal. The Village Board approved $30,000 in late August to launch the fundraising efforts through November 2012.   Fundraising costs will need to be paid for through capital campaign fundraising efforts.

9.    I’ve heard different cost estimates.

In truth, we’re not certain what the exact cost of the project will be until final construction bids have been submitted.  While there are many numbers being used out in the public, we prefer to rely upon the numbers provided to the public by the Village.  These estimates have thus far been very conservative. For example, the Village projected that the removal of the bridge would cost $330,000, however, the Village recently accepted a bid for  $180,000 (substantially below initial estimates) to remove the bridge. The Friends remain committed to its goal of $625,000, plus repayment of the $30,000 loan to begin fundraising efforts.

10.    Why doesn’t the Village of Fox Point pay for the entire project?

In this era of increased scrutiny of public expenditures, it is not uncommon for such private/public partnerships to develop. Private commitment of financing will demonstrate community support of the project to the Village Board.

11.    I’ve heard the Village Board bonded $1.1 million for this project. Why do you need my contribution?

The Village Board set aside $1.1 million for capital improvement projects. This amount could include funding for the footbridge, but that amount was not specifically set aside for this project.

12.    Why should donors give to this project? What's in it for them?

For many, private funding will make it possible to bring their footbridge back!  Increased private investment will maintain the pressure on the Village Board to replace the bridge sooner rather than later, providing an amenity that makes our village unique. Funding from private citizens will ensure that one of the beloved features of our village – the footbridge – will again be part of our lives, attracting families, walkers, runners and bicyclists.

13.     When do you need the funds?

The Footbridge Friends must present the board with a report at the February 2012 board meeting on its effort to raise $625,000 in pledges, plus the $30,000 allocated in August for fundraising. The Friends hope to have pledges in hand for that amount for discussion at the meeting. Clearly, the Friends are operating on a very tight timeline.

14.    When will the Village Board approve the footbridge replacement?

Footbridge Friends expect the Village Board to approve the bridge replacement project upon demonstration that $655,000 in public support exists for this project.

15.    What happens to my contribution if the Village Board doesn’t approve the bridge replacement?

It will be returned.  If donors want to take advantage of the opportunity to make a campaign gift to our non-profit group by the end of the year in order take advantage of the 2012 tax deduction, that donation will placed in a bank account held by the Friends.  In the event that the project does not proceed, the full amount of the donation will be returned when the donor submits a written request to the Friends.

Footbridge Friends is encouraging donors to submit signed pledged forms or postdated checks for January 31, 2013.. The Friends will accept contributions in one lump sum or in pledges spanning up to three years.

16.    Who else is supporting this project as donors and volunteers?

Footbridge Friends, Inc., is a non-profit group registered with the federal government as a 501 (c) 3 organization.  Its board consists of Barbara Schwartz, president; Mo Daly, treasurer; Dave Goelzer, secretary; and Joel Been.  All are residents of Fox Point. The Friends board has hired private fundraising and marketing/public relations counsel and is speedily engaging Fox Point Village residents and other interested parties to support its fundraising efforts. Additionally, on the Giving page, under the Current Pledges button, you will see the names of our generous contributors.

17.    Who are the donor audiences?

Footbridge Friends anticipates village residents, businesses and footbridge users – including walkers, runners and bicyclists – to be the primary donor audiences, as well as local foundations and trusts that serve the public interest. The Friends will reach outside the village, as well.

18.    What donor recognition opportunities are available?

The Friends are exploring multiple options, including dedications on the footbridge itself, as well as tasteful recognition at both ends of the bridge.  Recognition will be commensurate with gift size. An overall naming opportunity is also available.