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
October 2014 Newsletter
Royster Corners Finally Underway!: The bulldozers will start-up this week at Royster Corners as this long-awaited project gets underway. The first phase of the project will be installing the extensive infrastructure beginning with water, sewer and power lines. If the weather allows, we'll see construction of the new Pinney St. also this year.
In Spring 2015, the developers will begin the first major apartment block and hopefully, the commercial corner at Cottage Grove Rd. and Dempsey. The plans for the commercial corner will soon come before two city committees which I expect will give them a green light to proceed.
The City Library Board has submitted a letter of intent to purchase one of the two commercial properties and re-locate Pinney in a library that will be about twice the size of the current building. We have budgeted about $150,000 to design and plan the new library. I will expect to have a local committee participate in the design and planning of this important community institution.
Discussions about what to do about the closed Royster-Clark fertilizer plant began in 2007. A committee consisting of neighborhood leaders Sheila Guilfoyle, Chair, John Martens, BJ Obermeyer, Kathy DaWalt, Kris Whitman and Kathy Soukup worked with city planning staff, conducted numerous neighborhood meetings and produced a final report after two years of studies and discussion. Their work created the basic blueprint for the most extensive development in our area since the construction of Eastmorland 60 years ago!
Homes for Homeless People: The city's plan to build a 60-unit apartment house on Rethke Ave, just off East Washington, moved forward last week. Community members were briefed on the actual plans for the project for the first time since it was announced in December 2013. The plans include a professional counseling/social work staff of about five people, building management and maintenance staff and security at the entrance.
The purpose of the project is to provide permanent housing for people who have been homeless for some time. This is not a homeless "shelter" where people "come and go" but permanent housing where residents sign a one-year lease.
Applicants must pay one-third of their income in rent and indicate that they can live productively with others. Housing is for singles-only in studio apartments of about 350 sq. ft. Individuals with extensive criminal records or who have been convicted of violent crimes, sexual assault, drug manufacture, etc. will be excluded.
There are still a number of questions and concerns about the project. First, there's not enough parking (eight spaces!) for the staff and none for the residents (who may have been living in their car). This also means no parking for deliveries, visiting friends, etc. Rethke Ave is a heavily used truck route. As a result, folks will have to park at least two blocks away. That'll be tough in the winter. Second, there has been little discussion about what the residents will do all day. Only a few of the residents are expected to be employed which leaves a lot of empty time. I'll work with these agencies and city staff to resolve these issues.
Last Round of Brush Pick-Up: September 29th will be the last week of brush pick-up for every neighborhood. Immediately following brush pick-up comes..... leaf pick-up. (I won't even mention what comes after that....s**w).
Should the City Charge an Admission Fee to Olbrich Gardens for Non-Residents? Madison spends about $1.25 million per year to support the operations of Olbrich Gardens. However, two-thirds of the visitors are not residents of Madison. Free admission to municipal gardens is quite unusual. Of the 20 biggest municipal gardens, only two provide free admission for non-residents.
I believe that this is a benefit that we can no longer afford.
We charge Madison residents to play softball or golf, store a canoe or rent a park shelter. A charge of $5 would raise about $750,000 annually. We would still provide free admission to members of the Olbrich Gardens Society (who contribute to the Gardens). This would be one the lowest admission fees in the nation and should not be a financial burden for visitors.
Many opponents of an admission fee say that we should keep the gardens "free" for everyone. They overlook the fact that, on average, each household in Madison contributes $12 each year to support the Gardens. In 2016 and 2017, the city is slated to give $5 million to build a new visitors centers. We will pay substantial loan costs for many years to finance the construction which will add to the annual costs.
What do you think about this proposal?
The Budget: In the next two weeks the Council will complete the Capital Budget. The proposed capital budget is about $247 million. One half is for streets improvement, sewer and the water utility. Other major costs are the Fire Administration Building ($16 million), funding for a Public Market ($8.2 million), new neighborhood centers ($8.3 million) and potentially $30 million for a renovated municipal building.
After we finish the Capital Budget, we will move onto the Operating Budget. I will send you more information on the Operating Budget when I receive it.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 334-1156.
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