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
District Update: May 2015
Housing Values Inch Up: After years of falling and then stable house values, a few neighborhoods have seen an increase in property value. Obviously, this is important because for most folks, their major asset is the value of their home. (While taxes may be stable when prices fall, local government often makes up for the decline by increasing the tax rate per $1000 of value.)
For the neighborhoods in District 15, the City Assessor provided the following information:
Glendale: Avg. value: $168,000. No increase.
Lake Edge: Avg. value: $156,000: 0.6% increase
Eastmorland: Avg. value: $154,600: 3% increase
Olbrich Park/Cottage Grove Rd: $154,600: No increase
East Wash/ Stoughton Rd/Hwy 30: $140,300: 2.4% increase
Overall, across the city, home values increased 3.5% from an average of $238,000 to $246,000.
Turner Ave.: The City proposed to build a new street, underground lines, curb and gutter and sidewalks on Turner Ave. Like much of the 15th District there are no sidewalks because the area was annexed from Blooming Grove in the '50s.
The affected residents met with city officials on the proposal and expressed strong and nearly-unanimous opposition to the sidewalks proposal. The primary reasons for their opposition was 1) the cost of about $2,000 per residence, 2) the loss of over 15 healthy mature Maple trees in a three block area, 3) the change in the "look" of the area, 4) the responsibility of snow-clearance, 5) significant loss of front yards.
I asked the city to provide a mail ballot of residents. The results were interesting: about 90% of people returned their ballot (compared to about 50% in the Governor's race) and 90% voted against the sidewalk.
City Engineering staff said that sidewalks provided safety for pedestrians and that Turner is both on a bus route and a walking route to both Glendale School and LaFollette HS.
Local residents, however, were undeterred and attended the city Board of Public Works meeting in force. I am on the Board and had never seen as many citizens attend a meeting to oppose their assessment. Nonetheless, the Board voted 4-1 to approve the sidewalk proposal.
Still, not discouraged, residents signed a petition against the sidewalk proposal and attended the City Council meeting. Dozens of people spoke against it, including a 94 year-old resident as well as people with disabilities and limited incomes. Despite the unanimous opposition of the residents, the Councilvoted 15-5 to approve the sidewalk proposal.
Interestingly, other than myself, the other "NO" votes were all recently elected Council members who were sworn-in that day. They were still willing to support the views of the people who are actually affected by city policies.
The lower (most southern) blocks of Turner will be rebuilt later this summer and the northern section from Buckeye to Kay will be rebuilt next year.
As concessions, the City agreed to let residents take up to 15 years to pay their assessment (which incurs a 3% annual interest charge) and to cut the assessment for the sidewalk to 50% of cost with the remainder paid through a federal transportation program.
I was very disappointed that Council members did not take into due consideration that the sidewalk project was unneeded, unwanted and was unaffordable for many residents. However, it was heartening that so many residents decided that they were going to "fight City Hall" and though they did not win, they certainly had their voices heard.
Food Carts in the Neighborhood: Food carts are fun. But if you don't work downtown or at the University you're not likely to get to enjoy their variety (e.g. one specializing in tatter tots). Until now. Food carts will start setting up for dinner (between 5:30-7:30) in some of neighborhoods or near-neighborhoods:
Tuesday: Glendale Elementary: 1201 Tompkins Dr.
Thursday: City Church: 4904 E. Buckeye and
Trinity Lutheran 1904 Atwood Ave.
Reminder: Bring your own folding-chairs!
Spring Flush: The Water Utility wants you to know that hydrant flushing will begin today for the area between Pflaum and Cottage Grove Rd and Monona Dr and Cottage Grove. So listen for that rushing water!
Committee Appointments: I have been appointed to a two-year term to the Water Utility Board, Transportation and Parking Committee (which oversees Madison Metro and the city Parking Utility), Madison Area Transportation Commission and the Community Action Commission. I had requested that I be appointed to the Board of Estimates but nonetheless, I have every intention of attending meetings and providing questions for discussion of city expenditures and priorities.
Contact: If you need assistance with a city problem or would like to share your views on city issues, please feel free to contact me at 334-1156 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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