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
Year in Review
Over the past year we've seen a few major changes in the 15th District, most largely positive:
- The first major housing project of Royster Corners got underway and will be completed by March/April. This was the result of a successful long-term planning effort by many members of our community in 2010-11.
- Construction of Pinney Library in 2016 was approved by the City Council. A new library was always part of the plan for the site. The Mayor proposed postponing the construction for another year but the move was met with considerable local opposition that demanded that construction start on time.
- The temporary southbound entrance to Highway 51 was reconstructed after many community members contacted the state Dept. of Transportation and insisted that the entrance was dangerous and needed to be replaced. The entrance was re-built with a new viable entry lane.
- Unfortunately, the construction of sidewalks on Turner Ave. were completed over the objections of local residents. A majority of the affected residents opposed the proposal but their objections were ignored by the City Council. More sidewalks will likely be built on Turner Ave. next year.
- Housing for chronically homeless individuals is under construction on Rethke Ave. Local residents raised serious concerns on the viability of the programs for the residents. These concerns were largely addressed and the apartment house may prove to be a net positive for the community.
- The ash borer continues to infect our most common tree. New sightings of the insect are regularly reported and the city program to cut terrace and park trees will continue. Residents of the Eastmorland area have taken the initiative to raise funds to save park trees. Their effort continues and will save many trees in the area.
- The new shelter in Lake Edge Park is near completion. Due to intermittent construction work the project has taken months to complete. Instead of October, it looks like the project will be ready in April.
As you will note, most of the major projects and improvements were the result of citizen action to protect or advance their community. This usually involves working with a neighborhood association. However, some of the major concerns of residents are related to traffic which are less susceptible to local action.
Traffic issues usually involve speeding and other driving violations. Also, many of the streets in our area are poorly maintained and have major cracks and depressions that fill with rain and ice. To reduce speeding, I successfully had the budget amended to double the funds for the installation of speed bumps and other traffic "calming" devices. Also, I attempted to have more funds available for road sealing and maintenance operations.
While the police dedicates some resources to traffic control, the real solutions are more difficult: fewer cars and improved mass transit, stiffer penalties and better behavior from drivers. Much of the district along Atwood Ave and Monona Dr. have among the worst bus service in the city so it is unlikely that we will see reduced traffic.
At the city level, we saw a 3% increase in property taxes along with an increase in some fees. The increases was largely due major equipment purchases and a 2% increase in employee pay which was offset by a major change in insurance premiums and deductibles.
Major capital projects in the 2016 budget are the rebuilding of the Municipal Building, the Pinney Library and a new vehicle repair facility at the site of the closed Copps Food on Nakoosa Dr. We also approved the construction of a new near-west side police station which will also require hiring more police.
Despite my strong opposition, the Council approved the Mayor's proposal to give $48 million to a private corporation to build a headquarters and parking structure downtown. I and other dissenting members of the Council viewed the proposal as fiscally reckless. Luckily, the deal soon fell apart when the company's stock price fell 75% in one day (after the company's single product was not recommended by the federal government).
If the stock had collapsed a year from now and the project had been underway, we would have lost millions on an unneeded office building and a 1,300 space parking lot.
Last week, "Isthmus" newspaper summarized the fiasco as follows:
We Hardly Knew Ye Award: Exact Sciences
When this Madison-based medical-screening innovator said "Jump," city of Madison officials had only one major question: "How high?" They planned a $200 million downtown redevelopment project around the notion that Exact Sciences would be an anchor tenant, only to be left anchorless when the company bailed, amid signs that its fortunes are falling. Ald. David Ahrens opposed the deal; his concerns were shrugged off but proved, er, exactly right.
The Mayor and many on the Council seem to be committed to giving a lot of public money to private developers despite many indications that they are quite ready to build without them. I will continue to work to end this practice.
On that note, I'll add, have a good New Year and let's keep in touch:
District15@cityofmadison.com and 334 1156.
Holiday Tree Collection
The Streets Division will collect Christmas trees for recycling. Each neighborhood will receive two collections. You may also bring your trees to our drop off sites. Note: Collection could be delayed due to winter weather. Snow and ice operations have priority over tree collection.
Round One begins Monday January 4th
Round Two begins Tuesday January 19th
Have your tree out on the above dates to insure collection. It takes us 8 to 10 working days to complete a round of collection.
Christmas Tree Collection Rules
All trees are chipped at the curb. To avoid damage to our equipment, we ask that you follow these guidelines:
Place trees at the street edge only
Remove and discard tree bags
Remove all tree stands, ornaments, lights and other metal objects
Trees that are not properly prepared will NOT be collected.
Christmas Tree Drop Off Sites
You may also bring your Christmas trees to our drop off sites at:
East: 4602 Sycamore Ave
The sites open winter hours: Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 3 p.m
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