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
November 2013 District Update
Royster Corners: A community meeting was held on October 22 at Schenk School. About 150 people attended which must have made this the largest community meetings in the history of this district. The meeting began with a description of the overall Royster Corners Project.
The plan includes three models of single family homes on different sized lots. There will be about 50 of these homes and they will be built by Veridian Co.
In addition to the single-family homes there will be five newly constructed buildings. These include retail stores and offices facing Cottage Grove Rd that will have 22?unit apartment units above them. We fully expect that this will include a new Pinney Library which will also have apartments built above it.
Additionally, the developer, Ruedebusch, intends to build two additional apartment house units consisting of 48 and 27 units. He is hoping to make at least one of those units into housing primarily for senior citizens. All of the units described will be rented or sold at "market-rate." Finally, there will be two adjacent apartment buildings with a total of 71 units. This complex will be built and managed by Stone House, a well-known and highly regarded builder in the area and Movin?Out, a service organization for people with disabilities.
These apartments created some concern for some attendees because the homes will be rented at below-market rate. This means that one third of the units will be available to households at 80% of the Average Median Income in Dane County. For a household of three people that means that they can earn no more than $58,000 per year. One third of the units will be available to households who are at 60% of the Average Median Income. For a household of three people that means no more than $43, 370 and for four people, an income of $48,540. About one third of the units will be for people with incomes below 60% of Average Median income. These units will be primarily for people with disabilities or families with a disabled family member. Overall, one third of the units of this complex will be people with disabilities. There are very few housing units built for people with disabilities at prices that they can afford and thus, this serves an essential need for members of our community.
There was also a presentation by the city's Assistant Traffic Engineer and City Engineer who discussed possible changes in Cottage Grove Rd. This included building a median strip (called a "pedestrian refuge"), constructing bike lanes, burying the spaghetti-like utility wires and planting trees. There are three entrances/exits to the project: on Cottage Grove Rd, Olbrich and Dempsey. Three entrances are required by the Fire Department.
A number of community members voiced concerns that this will increase traffic in their immediate neighborhoods; particularly along Olbrich and neighboring streets. The city engineers agreed that there certainly will be additional traffic as a result of adding over 200 households to the area. There will also be new employment in the project that will add traffic to the area. However, before it's known how much commuting is added, where the traffic goes (for example: What % will commute on Hwy 51?, What % of commuters will uses the bike trails in the warmer months?) and when it goes, it is too early to start planning for traffic calming devices (e.g. speed bumps) and addition of new lights, stop signs, etc.
Construction of Royster Corners will likely begin next Spring with the construction of the infrastructure of water/sewer lines and roads. The first single-family homes will be built next summer and will slowly fill in over the next two-three years.
The general consensus of the meeting and from comments afterwards is that Royster Corners will be a tremendous positive addition to our neighborhoods.
City Budget: Tomorrow night we will begin the usually long council meetings to discuss the city operating and capital budgets. (Actually, we've already had about ten meetings on it at the Board of Estimates.) The operating budget does not have any new big initiatives. This is largely because the state strongly limits the ability of the city to increase taxes (to about 1%). As a result almost of the "new money" is put into continuing the work that we did last year: rebuild streets, police and fire protection. The capital budget has a new police station on the west side, a new parking garage downtown and about a dozen new buses.
Despite the small amount of new money, I added an amendment to add $150,000 in funding for the city community centers, senior centers and social service contractors. The people who do this important work have not had a raise in FOUR years. As a result of the amendment they'll get a raise of about 1.5%. I think the amendment will pass.
I also introduced an amendment to cut the $7 million appropriation for a new city parking garage. The engineer's report of 2011 said that the garage still had a decade of useful life in it if we keep up a minimum of maintenance. Overall, a new garage would cost about $26 million. This will add additional costs to park downtown. If we can keep this garage operating for another decade, let's do it and keep the parking fees as low as possible.
Buying and Improving Housing: There are a number of city-based programs that may be able to help you either purchase a new home or rehab a home that you already own (or plan to buy). You can find more about these programs and whether you qualify for them by going to : http://www.cityofmadison.com/dpced/economicdevelopment/home-loans/228 or by calling 266-4223.
Let me know what's on your mind and whether you have any concerns or questions in regard to city services and policies.
I can be reached at either firstname.lastname@example.org or at 334-1156.
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