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 2015 Newsletter from Alder David Ahrens
Cottage Grove Rd/Hwy 51: The new temporary southbound entrance to Hwy 51 was extremely difficult to use because it had nearly no entry lane. Most drivers felt endangered because traffic going 50+ mph couldn't see them as they entered the road.
In response to this problem, local residents using the NextDoor.com site and other media started a campaign for the state DOT to shut it or fix it. They also contacted TV news stations and one did a feature on the dangers of the intersection. The next day DOT shut down the ramp. Chalk one up for citizen action!
What's next? I was told by a DOT engineer that they are discussing different options this week and will have a plan next week. Shutting the ramp until the completion of the interchange is NOT one of them.
In my discussions with DOT, I also asked about the southbound exit at Cottage Grove Rd. The exit requires a sharp right turn off the highway and then an even tighter curve then it was before. (This week they installed arrows and a guardrail on the right.) They said that would be improved as well.
The overall project is scheduled to be completed in February (probably March) with an entrance that allows a normal entry and exit to and from the highway.
Walters St. Reconstruction Delayed: Last month I wrote about the upcoming rebuild of Walters St. This week the city decided to hold off on the project for a year because of the rebuild of Cottage Grove Rd and Dempsey St. If both Walters and Dempsey were under construction at the same time (as well as Hwy 51) it would create a major problem for Eastmorland drivers.
Cottage Grove Rd/ Dempsey Reconstruction: Next year Cottage Grove Rd from Monona Dr. to Hwy 51 will undergo a major reconstruction. The street will be widened to include pedestrian islands, bike lanes will be installed and the jumble of wires on poles will be buried underground. During the construction, which will take about six months, traffic will be one lane. Dempsey Rd from Cottage Grove to Anchor Lane will also be rebuilt which will include new water and sewer lines. There will be a meeting with City Engineering on the project on Thursday, November 19th at 6:30 PM at the LMC at Whitehorse MS.
City Budget/ Pinney Library: City budget deliberations begin next week. We have an amendment to provide funding to get construction of Pinney underway later next year. The Mayor proposes to start construction in 2017, which means that it will not open until 2018. This delay also creates a problem for the overall Royster project. Many retail stores will not commit to move there until the library (and its tens of thousands of visitors) opens and as a result major elements of the project may be delayed.
While Pinney Library may be delayed, the Mayor has proposed to start work on a Public Market to be located at First St and Johnson. This is budgeted at $17 million and will require a subsidy for at least the first year of operation. (Remember Monona Terrace was supposed to be self-supporting after the first year or two. It still costs taxpayers $4-5 million each year to operate.) I've visited many public markets in the US and Canada and they are, generally, exciting and interesting retail places. However, this is not a necessity for the continuation of essential city services.
The city will borrow over $30 million to rebuild the municipal building and tens of millions for other projects such as Cottage Grove Rd., a new water tower, etc. We will have to pay interest for each project for years to come. As interest payments increase, the funds available to provide basic city services become limited and then scarce.
Instead of borrowing tens of millions of dollars, the city should not give $47 million in financing to a private developer for Judge Doyle Square. Instead, we should return this money to city taxpayers, the School District and the county. Also, we could earn $15 million by selling the land for the project, instead of giving it away. Now that the company that was supposed to occupy most of the new office space is in deep financial trouble, I hope that the Mayor will rethink the value of the project as well as the city's priorities.
Coyotes: A coyote has made its way into the Glendale and Lake Edge neighborhoods. They've killed two small dogs and probably many rabbits and squirrels. They are alarming to encounter, although they are not likely to be seen by people because they hunt at night and pre-dawn. The most important advice is that you should not leave a small dog/cat outside at night. Also keep trash cans inaccessible as well as dog food, etc. This one-page fact sheet from the state DNR provides a good overview of how we can respond to coyotes in our neighborhoods.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about city services or policies. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 334-1156.
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