Alder David Ahrens
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Ahrens’ Updates
Alder Ahrens: August Newsletter
News on Pinney Library: In June, the Madison Library Board recommended that the Pinney Library move from its current location and that a new library should be built in 2015 and open in 2016. The Board made no recommendation on the new location.
I recommended to the Library Board that the new library should be located at the Royster Corners development at Dempsey and Cottage Grove Rd. I said that this would be the best site because it is near the current location and would be able to continue to serve its patrons. Also, it is centrally located for the greatest number of potential patrons on the Eastside.
A new library would also be a crucial addition to the 27-acre development. This housing/retail and commercial development along with improvements in Cottage Grove Rd. could provide a big boost for all of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mayor Soglin must now decide whether to include the new library in his Capital Improvement Budget. I am cautiously optimistic that he will do so. If it is included in his budget it will then have to be approved by the Board of Estimate and the City Council.
After it passes those hurdles, the issue will then return to the Library Board. The Board will decide where the new library will be located. Hopefully, we will have good news of a new library for our community by November!
Reconstructing Cottage Grove Road: Over the next year we will likely see major improvements of Cottage Grove Rd. (from Monona Dr. to Acewood). This will be the result of a proposed a Tax Improvement District for the Cottage Grove Rd. area. I will work to see that this District is approved by the Council this summer. The District will have millions of dollars for street improvements (e.g. a pedestrian median) as well as funds to assist in the construction of the Royster development. The details of the improvements have not been completed pending meetings with community members to get your input.
Why I Voted Against "Updating" Monona Terrace Bathrooms, etc.: A request for millions of dollars for design updates and repairs of Monona Terrace recently came to the Board of Public Works (of which I am a member) and later the City Council. These requests included over $1 million for a new carpet and $1.2 million for changes in the bathrooms. I would not vote for the carpet installation ($350,000) because the Monona Terrace ordered the carpet without approval of the Board of Public Works or the Council. That would leave us, of course, with no choice but to pay for the installation.
I did not object to changes in the bathroom that were needed where fixtures were no longer working or to make them more environmentally sustainable such as low-flow toilets. However, I objected to the majority of the project which called for re-tiling 19 bathrooms and purchasing newly design light fixtures, etc.
This budget year, like the last few, will be very tight. We have almost no new revenue but increasing costs for everything from utilities to new vehicles to health insurance. We're going to ask residents to pay more property taxes for the same services. Given these problems, I believe every agency should decide what is necessary to continue to function and cut the rest. While these proposed new designs might add to the allure of the Terrace bathrooms, I did not think they met the test of a budget "necessity."
Organizing on Thompson Dr: Over the past few months there have been two violent deaths on or near Thompson Dr. In addition to these tragedies, the area is plagued by a very high volume of traffic that uses Thompson Dr. as a high-speed freeway.
I believe that the most effective way to improve public safety is through the neighborhood joining together or neighborhood cohesiveness. In talking to residents of the area I found that there was no neighborhood or community organization that could bring people together and develop an agenda for improvement.
With the assistance of the excellent City Council staff I sent postcards to 400 households and asked them to attend a community meeting to discuss the problems in the area. I followed up by leafleting the area the weekend before our meeting. Last Tuesday, over 30 people attended our meeting at the Sycamore Streets Dept. lunchroom. The Eastern Division Police Capt. Mary Schauf and two of her officers attended as well as the Director of the Traffic Engineering Department and an assistant to the Mayor. There was a frank discussion of the problems in the area in regard to police activities, traffic parking and speed and use of the parks.
The Police and Traffic Engineering Departments have since begun the necessary studies and plans for improvement. The participants of the meeting have pledged to follow-up, first with a community pot-luck in September and then forming a community organization to continue to work together. I am very optimistic that the community has the leadership and know-how to make a positive change for all.
Contact me: If you have a concern about your neighborhood, need assistance or would like to comment on this report or other city issues please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334 1156.
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