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

December 2016 Report

December 30, 2016 2:26 PM

More on Bars and Biergartens: There were many hearings and community meetings this month on licensing a local bar and the proposed biergarten in Olbrich Park.

I held a community meeting to discuss the biergarten with the developers, the Chair of the Parks Commission and city staff. There was a good exchange of information on how the establishment would look and operate. Many biergartens have opened in the Milwaukee County Parks over the past few years and they have opened in many other cities across the US. Residents living close to the site raised concerns about noise and litter. Other residents stated that they liked the idea of bringing people into the park in late afternoon and evening when it is now fairly deserted.

Early in December, the Parks Commission voted unanimously in favor of the proposal but vote again on a final lease agreement. Commissioners explained that the city would have much substantial control over this establishment because it holds the lease to the property and has the right to terminate it if the management violates the terms of the lease on noise, litter, service restrictions, etc.

A second hearing was held by the Alcohol License Review Commission. Commissioners questioned the applicant on the adequacy of the number of bathroom facilities and if the biergarten should have a defined perimeter. At midnight, after hours of discussion, the Commission postponed a decision (again) until a later meeting.

Given this postponement and further referrals to the Parks Commission, Common Council, etc. it is likely that there will be city meetings on the biergarten through the end of February.

Another establishment in District 15 is seeking a liquor and "adult entertainment" license, the infamous Visions nightclub on East Wash. A new owner is required to seek a new license. Unfortunately, this application has not received as much attention as the biergarten.

At the Commission hearing, I raised the issue that Visions has a capacity for about 135 customers but only 12 parking spaces- and about the same number of staff. There is no parking on East Wash and none on the street behind it. Patrons would have to drive around the neighborhood for a parking space and then find their car after the bar closes.

The ALRC gave the Visions applicant a month to attempt to solve their parking problem. I also hope that they address the frequency of very excessive drinking at "bachelor parties" and other events.

It's worth noting that the same night that the biergarten was reviewed for four hours for a second time, a license for a bar with a capacity of 2,500 people was approved without any discussion. This will be on East Wash. At the previous meeting a bar with a capacity of 1,500 and another for 600 people were also approved without discussion.

Christmas Tree Collection: Starting Tuesday, January 3rd the first round of Christmas tree collection will begin.  Christmas trees placed to the curb by 7am on January 3 will likely be collected prior to January 17, barring any winter weather complications

The second round of Christmas tree collection likely will begin on Tuesday, January 17.  Christmas trees placed to the curb by 7am on January 17 will likely be collected prior to February 1. 

After the second round of tree collection is complete, crews will transition to other priorities.  Trees set to the curb after the second round of collection occurs in your neighborhood will sit on the terrace until crews begin regular brush collection in the spring. 

Wreaths, evergreen rope, garlands, and boughs will not be collected with Christmas trees. These items regularly contain wire that can jam our equipment by becoming entangled inside the chipper. Please place these into your tan refuse cart.

Plowing takes priority over tree collection, and this may cause delays.

Please Note: Trees are processed with expensive wood chippers. These machines can be easily damaged by metal, wire, and other foreign material. To protect this equipment and the safety of our workers we ask that all residents follow these rules.  Failure to follow these rules may result in your tree being left at the curb.

Remove all tree stands regardless of whether they are metal or wood.
Remove all light strings, ornaments and other metal objects.
Remove any tree bags.
Place trees at the street edge only.
If trees become buried under snow residents are asked to dig out trees.

Residents may also bring your Christmas trees to one of our drop-off sites.  The sites are located at 1501 W. Badger Rd. on the southwest side and 4602 Sycamore Ave. on the east side.

Spaanem Water Tower: The Madison Water Utility has requested that the southern part of the land surrounding the Spaanem Ave. water tower be used for construction of three homes. One of those homes will be used to demonstrate the most advanced conservation measures in water use and energy.

This process is in its very earliest stage. If the request is approved and if the lots are sold and constructed it will mean a change in the immediate neighborhood. I want you to know about it beforehand and hear your views.

I've scheduled a community meeting with the General Manager of the Madison Water Utility, Tom Heikkinen, to give us an opportunity to learn more about their plans for the site.  The Utility has also set up a webpage with information on the proposal.

The meeting will be held at Pinney Library Community Room:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

6:30-8 PM

City Seeks 100% Renewable Energy Future: Now that we have the CEO of Exxon for Secretary of State and the former Governor of Texas as Energy Secretary, it seems pretty clear that this administration doesn't care about climate change. In response to the lack of federal action, many cities have pledged to ensure that 100% of their electrical power is sourced from renewable energy. Although many of the cities are in the Sunbelt (Las Vegas and San Diego), others, like Madison, are in the higher latitudes such as Rochester, Minnesota and Grand Rapids Michigan.

Madison can do much more to use renewable sources of energy and reduce its reliance on power from MGE- which is primarily derived from burning coal. A few years ago, the city committed itself to this goal but had no plan to realize it. This month, I sponsored a resolution that the city should develop a plan to power city operations (not businesses, homes, schools, etc.) with renewable energy by year 2030. This is a complicated process and in the short-term, will require a significant capital expenditure but one that I think will be cost-effective in the long-run and do our part to help the planet survive into the next century.

State School Superintendent- Community Forum: The primary election for the State Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction will be held on Feb. 17th and the general election on April 4th. The position is currently held by Dr. Tony Evers, who is running for re-election. The relationship between Dr. Evers and Gov. Walker has been fairly contentious and as a result there are many other candidates for the position.

A community forum, sponsored by East Side Progressives (ESP), will bring together a number of these candidates to discuss school funding, vouchers for private schools, disparities in achievement and standardized testing. The forum will be held on:

Sunday, January 15th

Program begins at 6:00pm.

Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Dr. (parking behind church on Hegg Ave)

Lake Edge Park Playground

Residents can review playground proposals developed by the Parks Dept. staff for a new structure at Lake Edge Park.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm
Pinney Library
204 Cottage Grove Road

I have been honored to have this opportunity to represent you at the Council and in the city government. You can reach me at or at 608-334-1156 to discuss city policies or services.

Have a Happy New Year!


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