Alder David Ahrens
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service
Alder Ahrens’ Updates
Giving Neighborhoods a Fair Share
Some news and comments on local events:
Emerald Ash Borer: Received news today that the Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Warner Park and at the north of the 12/18 and Stoughton Rd. That means it's only weeks before it's in our area. Or it may already be here. The hopeful notion that one benefit of the extreme cold would be the freezing of the larvae has not panned out and it looks like most have survived the brutal cold. There's a good resource for learning more about treating Ash trees in your neighborhood at:
Visit Olbrich and Walk with a Doc – Sunday, March 9, 1 p.m. at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
Get prepared for the upcoming spring allergy season with Walk with a Doc. Dr. Houser will discuss how to deal with spring allergies. Then, she will lead a peaceful walk through the Botanical Gardens (indoors and outdoors if weather permits). After the Walk, you are welcome to stay for the Sunday concerts at p.m. More information on Olbrich Botanical Gardens, please visit their website at
Physician: Dr. Laura Houser, UW Health
Topic: Dealng with Spring Allergies
Pinney Library Books Sale: This is short notice but Friends of Pinney Library will be holding a one-day book sale, on Saturday, March 1, starting at 9 AM for members of the Friends and at 10 AM for the public. It'll be a cold and snowy day-great for going to the library.
Focusing on Our City's Neighborhoods: Recently, at a Council meeting, the city's director of economic development told us that the neighborhood on the south side of the Capitol increased in property value by about 10% per year in each of the last 18 years. That's extraordinary growth- almost tripling in value. Downtown as a whole had increased in value by 6.5% in the same period. Also, tremendous growth. The rest of the city had increased about 4% in value. That's a healthy increase as well- almost doubling in value.
However, we know that not all of the neighborhoods have increased in value equally. Some neighborhoods have increased by rates similar to downtown- Marquette, University Hts., far westside, etc. While other communities have had little or no growth and in a few areas have actually declined.
The troubling part of the presentation was not only the big difference in growth rates but the city's plans in response to this information. The city has decided to invest $50-60 million in the area south of the Capitol which already has grown at twice the rate of the rest of the city! When I asked why we were investing in this area and not the neighborhoods outside of the downtown I was told that by investing in this area, "we can get a bigger bang for our buck." (This is a summary of a much lengthier explanation.)
There are a few problems with this sort of thinking. First, is the issue of the "bang" that we're looking for. Much of the thinking in City Hall is that the main measure of success is an increase in taxable property. As a practical matter, this usually means building really big apartment houses and office buildings and in this case a hotel. Occasionally, there is an exception to this such as the Royster Corners development. Buying land for a neighborhood park in Glendale, adding speed bumps on a busy residential street or increasing police patrols for a neighborhood with a crime spike isn't considered a "bang", it's a cost. For the neighborhood, it's the difference between slowly going down and staying as a vital place to live.
Second, is the issue of who's actually paying the bills. From the viewpoint of neighborhood residents, we are the ones who are supplying the "buck." Two-thirds of city revenue comes from residential property tax with additional tax revenue from commercial property such as East and West Town malls. It seems fair that in addition to regular maintenance and services older neighborhoods should receive a share of development dollars.
The data indicate that downtown is doing very well without pouring tax dollars into it. Four new hotels have been or will be built downtown from July 2013-Dec. 2014. This will add over 500 rooms to the market. It doesn't make sense that the city would invest tens of millions of dollars and give away very valuable property for free (two parcels behind the Municipal Building) to construct another hotel with 300 more rooms. This puts private owners and operators at a disadvantage and poses big and unnecessary risks for taxpayers.
(I discuss some of the issues related to Judge Doyle Square on this program on City Channel http://media.cityofmadison.com/Mediasite/Play/b9978b9151704ac6869ebab2e8d461ba1d)
Outside of the City-County Building, I have not met one person who is for a city-subsidized hotel yet the march towards building it goes on and on. I will keep working to stop this foolish and wasteful use of our scarce resources and direct city energy where it is really needed.
I look forward to hearing from you and assisting you as needed.
I can be reached at 334-1156 and district firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's hoping winter actually does come to end.......
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