City of

District 15

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Contact Information

Home Address:

4117 Major Ave.
Madison , WI 53716

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Ahrens’ Updates

August 2016 District Update

July 30, 2016 4:32 PM

Keeping Phosphorus Out of the Lake

We've known for a long time that the source of the green plants, algae and ooze thickening the Lake every summer is phosphorus.  Much of it comes from rivers and creek carrying manure runoff from farms and crop and lawn fertilizers. However, most of the phosphorus is from tree leaves that are washed into storm water sewers and then the Lake.

One very promising method of removing phosphorus will, hopefully, be employed next year on Starkweather Creek. The plan is to deepen a quarry pond located on the Voigt Farm (at Fair Oaks and Milwaukee St.) and divert phosphorus-laden water from Starkweather into the pond. The water will then be treated with an aluminum compound which will bond with the phosphorus. After the new compound settles at the bottom of the pond the water will be returned to the creek.

The process will remove almost a ton of phosphorus each year that would have otherwise wound up in the lake. To get this project underway, I have proposed that the city buy part of the Voigt Farm and build the water diversion routes and treatment facility.

In addition to removing the phosphorus, the project will remove old rail trestles and a section of the creek that is filled with flood-borne rubbish. This will open the creek for canoeing. Other improvements include a boat "put-in" and paths to make the area accessible and open to the public.

For a major reduction in phosphorus, we will have to change our approach to fall leaves. Rather than treating leaves as a form of "garbage" that is collected by the city, we can leave them on the property to decompose and return nutrients to the soil. Changing attitudes to adopt new behaviors such as recycling takes time but with a public education campaign coupled with constructive city strategies, we might be able to clean the lake in the foreseeable future.


Dean Ave Reconstruction

About 35 residents of the E. Dean Ave area met with me and city engineers to discuss the 2017 reconstruction of part of E. Dean and Allis Ave and Seth and Tyler Circle. This meeting was early in the process so there were only general concepts of the project. The Engineering Dept.'s plan is to replace the sewer and water lines which were installed more than 60 years ago and then rebuild the road. Because of there are no curbs or gutters the width of the road varies between 32 and 38 feet due to irregular erosion. The plan is to install curbs, gutters and sidewalks. There was substantial opposition to the proposed sidewalks because of the cost, the loss of trees and the general look of the street. (There are no sidewalks planned for Seth and Tyler Circle.)

To get a better sense of the opinion on the issue of sidewalks, I sent a survey to the affected residents. The vote was 20 No, 6 Yes and surprisingly, 26 not voting.

Other issues discussed were the use of speed bumps, bike lanes, pedestrian medians and whether there should be street parking on one or both of sides of the street.

The next step is for Engineering and Traffic Engineering to draw some preliminary plans and bring them back to the community at the end of the summer. I will ask them to reconsider plans for the sidewalk due to a lack of necessity and the high cost to many homeowners and to consider at least one bike lane. I also asked Traffic Engineering to do a study of speeds on Dean before and after the rebuilding of the road and to take steps to slow traffic down.


Judge Doyle Square

In case you missed it in the news last month, the Council passed a deal for the development of the project named (for some reason) Judge Doyle Square. Unlike the many earlier plans that have been adopted, rejected or simply fell apart, this one requires no financial participation of the city in the private portions of the project. Previous plans have required city financing of up to $50 million for either building a hotel, office building and their parking structures. They were all bad deals, unnecessary and highly risky.

The hotel and apartments in this project will be entirely privately financed. The replacement for the Government East parking ramp on E. Wilson St. will be built largely underground. Unlike under the previous plans, the ramp will stay open until the replacement is built.

It's worth noting that (in addition to being of limited risk to taxpayers) the project is an interesting design of two curved building facing each other and creating an open space which might require it to be renamed the "Judge Doyle Oval."

The project will begin and next spring and will go on for a very long time.


Groovin' on Cottage Grove Road

In case you haven't seen them, catch the new "Groovin' on Cottage Grove Road" signs in the construction zone. These retro signs are in place to boost local businesses during the long summer construction season. Project will be completed in October.


On the Calendar:

August 6-7: Madison Radicals. National Frisbee Championship.

Did you know that Madison's "Ultimate Frisbee" team has the best record in the nation?

I didn't. Because of their perfect record (15-0) the championship will be played at Breese Stevens Field next weekend. For more information:

August 13: Burke Heights Neighborhood Block Party: This block party has music and an MPD horse patrol. Meet from 12-6 at Sycamore Park.

August 14: Lake Edge Neighborhood Party: At the newly built shelter in Lake Edge Park. Free hot dogs, etc. but bring a dish to pass. Music, kids play stuff.

August 14: Jazz Concert

The annual Lake Edge Lutheran Jazz Concert is set for Sunday, Aug. 14, from 6-9 p.m. in the parking lot in the 4000 block of Hegg Avenue. Rain moves the music to inside the church at 4032 Monona Drive. BYO chair and picnic if desired.

The two bands are DeLaDre, a Latin music ensemble and New Orleans Tribute, playing New Orleans jazz and traditional swing.

Three food carts have also been confirmed: Buzzy's Lake House, Taquitos Marimar and the Looking Glass Bakery.

August 27: Carpenter-Ridgeway Neighborhood Association: Hot dogs, burgers, etc. at Carpenter-Ridgeway Park from 11-2 PM.

If you have any questions or concerns about city programs or policies, please contact me at or call me at 334-1156.

                        Positively Eastside,




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