City of

District 15

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Contact Information

Home Address:

4117 Major Ave.
Madison , WI 53716

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Ahrens’ Updates

News On Royster Corners

February 28, 2016 2:36 PM

Royster Corners: Over the past few weeks there has been seemingly alarming news on the potential "re-contamination" of the Royster Corners project on Cottage Grove Road.

When the Royster-Clark fertilizer plant closed, the soil was heavily contaminated with nitrates. Thousands of tons were excavated from the site and dumped on farm fields where the soil would be put to good use. The clean-up cost more than two million dollars but allowed the site to be ready for construction.

In the summer of 2014, the last stage of the Monona Dr. reconstruction created tens of thousands of tons street "fill." Based on an assurance from the Dept. of Transportation that the material was not contaminated, the developer Ruedebusch Development Corporation (RDC) agreed to have the crushed street dumped on the site to be used as fill where the excavation (of the first contaminant) had previously taken place.

As one could guess, a major street that had been subject to gas and oil dripping, exhaust from cars and trucks, etc. for 40 years is likely to contain materials that are not "clean." Once it was in place, RDC tested the material and found low-levels of contaminants, including PAHs, which can be harmful if ingested or heavily exposed to airborne gases.

In response, the DNR said that the material would have to be removed from the surface of the entire site and then either be transported to a secure landfill or covered (capped). Fortunately, the construction of a new bridge and road at Cottage Grove and Stoughton Rd provided an opportunity to bury most of the refuse.

Currently, the plan for the remaining fill is for it to be buried beneath the parking lot under a layer of crushed asphalt and then capped over. Burying low-level contaminants such as crushed road fill under buildings is a standard engineering practice and is approved by the DNR. The fill will not infiltrate to a water table hundreds of feet below or to the air. In that the substance being buried is a "ground up street", it is a product that we are exposed to everyday. However, because it was an old road that contained a layer of coal tar (which is rich in PAH) special precautions such as burying and capping it are mandated.

Given the on-going crisis in Flint, Michigan due to lead exposure and likely other diseases pathogens in their water and the city's on-going dispute with Madison Kipp Co. over the long-term effects of PCBs to its neighbors, we are particularly sensitive to any suggestion of environmental contaminants. And rightly so. For decades concerns and warnings about environmental hazards were routinely ignored, understated and denied. For that reason, pronouncements by authorities that "Everything is OK" should be met with healthy skepticism.

 But it is also important to avoid assuming that all contaminants put us equally at risk and that the concentrations in which they are found are irrelevant. In this particular instance, reports indicate a low exposure risk and one that should be all but eliminated by burying it. (Questions remain, however, on effects of immediate neighbors property from dust blown from the site.)

If there are any new developments in understanding the environmental risks, I will be sure to let you know. I think we all want this project to succeed but also know that it is safe for residents and neighbors.

 Gigi's Playhouse: A number of cities have opened community centers for children with Down's Syndrome called Gigi's Playhouse. Now Madison will have a special place. The center will open at the former Monona Bootery in Lake Edge Shopping Center (4104 Monona Dr/Buckeye Rd). If you would like more information on Playhouses in other cities see: Or you can talk to Patrick Ryan, volunteer and member of the Board at 608-310-7922 or cell 608-444-0411.  We look forward to this great addition to our city and neighborhood.

Ash Trees on Dempsey: I received notice this week that the Forestry Dept. will soon remove ash trees along the street terrace that have been infected with the ash borer or are old and likely to be infected.

I've asked the department, "Why don't they sell these logs to mills and woodworkers instead of hauling them to a wood chipper where they are ground up and dumped?"  It would save money and re-use the trees rather than turning them into dust.  

"How Can I Help?" : Many of us are aware of the needs of neighbors (known and unknown), communities and children that are not met. An elder needs minor repairs to stay in their home, cooking or delivering meals, staffing a concession stand. There are hundreds of immediate and on-going things to do that may take two hours per month or more if you can spare the time. Once you start, it is hard to stop and you'll find that it's much better than watching TV. The opportunities are nearly limitless. United Way of Dane County has a list of more than 100 volunteer opportunities. Check them out at:

Open House: The New Community Recreation Facility

Madison School & Community Recreation MSCR is hosting an Open House at the new MSCR East program site, 4620 Cottage Grove Road, Madison. The event takes place on Friday, March 4, 4:30-7pm and showcases a variety of free, sample classes for youth and adults. Metro Market is providing beverages. Sample fun activities, take tours and register for door prizes. This new facility has several activity rooms to hold MSCR classes for all ages.
STUDIO 1 – Adults – 18+
4:30 - 4:50pm Tai Chi and Balance
5:00 - 5:20pm Strength
5:30 - 5:50pm Yoga Flow
6:00 - 6:20pm POUND
6:30 - 7:00pm Capoeira

STUDIO 2 – All Ages
4:30 - 7:00pm FIT2GO Fun Fitness Activities
6:00 - 6:20pm Punk Rope

4:30 - 4:50pm Rhythm & Movement – Ages 8 and younger
5:00 - 5:20pm Tap - Adult & Youth
5:30 - 5:50pm Hip Hop - Youth
6:00 - 6:20pm Ballet - Adult & Youth
6:30 - 6:50pm Ballet/Tap Adult

Stay in touch! You can reach me at or at 608-334 -1156.

Positively Eastside,




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