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District 3


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Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
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Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
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District 3 Blog

Acewood Apts, PFAS and The Weather

March 2, 2019 1:26 PM

Dear Resident of District 3:

I am the Alder for District 15- your neighbors to the west of Stoughton Road- and have been filling in during the two month period between Alder Hall's resignation and the swearing-in of a new Alder on April 9th. (The election, however, is on April 2nd.)

I can help you resolve questions or concerns about city policies and services as they affect your immediate neighborhood such as the approval of a new Kwik-Trip on Sprecher Rd. or issues of city-wide concern. I've tried to cover some of each in the items below, Sentry development, PFAS in municipal water and a global concern--the weather.


Acewood Apts. /Development on the Sentry Foods site: After much public debate, the next "decision-point" in the process for approval of the "Movin' Out" project is in the hands of a state agency. The proposed development is awaiting Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Administration's (WHEDA) decision on a tax credit application.  This was one of four proposed developments to which the Council approved City financial support late last year.  This project was awarded $1.1M ($990,000 of which would come from federal HOME funds). 

As always, the City assistance is contingent upon the developer securing both tax credits and City land use approvals.  WHEDA's decisions should occur sometime within the next month or so.  It is safe to say that the project is not financially viable without tax credits so WHEDA's decision is an important one.

With respect to City land use approvals, this project will require sign-off by two committees, the Urban Design Commission (UDC) and the Plan Commission.  It would not require Council approval, as I understand it unless a Plan Commission decision was appealed by residents.  Planning staff have had extensive discussions with one of the developers, Movin' Out, about the project's design details. Staff concerns have not yet been resolved.  At this point, Movin' Out has asked Planning staff to place the review of their project on hold pending the outcome of the tax credit application.  If Movin' Out receives credits, that review process will resume.  Both the UDC and Plan Commission approval processes provide the opportunity for public input. 

If the project receives the tax credits and accepts the proposal for a design change then Movin' Out should seek further direct public discussion, in addition to the city committees.

When I receive some news on WHEDA's decision, I'll send you that information.


The Weather and the Streets: Is there anything more that can be said about the weather? The month began with the coldest sustained period (ever?) which was followed by lots of snow, a few warm days to turn the snow into slush and then more sub-freezing weather to turn the slush into piles of ice that make driving, walking or being outside challenging.

Due to responsibilities such as having to go to work, taking the kids to school and buying food, most of us can't take the advice to "stay at home" when the weather is bad.

As you might expect, I've received more than a few complaints about the road conditions; mostly, that they are thickly covered with ice. While we may want to have ice-free roads, the unusual weather conditions (snow/warm/sub-zero temps) and the available equipment make that difficult to achieve on all but the most heavily traveled roads. Rather than our armada of 40 trucks, we'd need hundreds of plows to clear all residential streets of most of the ice.

It's possible that some different approaches might have made a slight difference. It might or might not have helped if the trucks were out earlier on the night of the big snow or on Slushy Saturday rather than freezing Sunday. But the bottom line is that the most useful tool, salt, doesn't work when temperatures fall below 15 degrees. (Also, Streets Division is cutting way back on our use of salt so that we can avoid turning Lake Monona into a salt-water lake and having more salt seep into the aquifer.)

I wish I could say that winter will soon be over but some of the worst is yet to come: record-breaking lows for the next few days at least!

The good news is that even though it is hard to imagine spring, far-sighted neighbors have planned the annual Easter Egg hunt. It is scheduled for Saturday, April 13 at noon at Kennedy Park. If you (and kids) are planning on going on the hunt, please pick up an extra bag of candy or some small trinkets.


PFAS:  There's been much news lately about the contamination of the city water supply by PFAS chemicals. These are a class of chemicals that have been used for everything from fire-fighting foam to fabric sprays and dental floss. After they were in use for decades, it was discovered that they accumulate in the body and can cause serious illnesses. The actual amount of chemicals are very small. Highly sensitive measurement equipment has detected about 40 parts per trillion.

The major known source of PFAS in Madison's water is located around the Air National Guard training facility at Truax. The contamination is located in "burn pits" and in areas where the Guard was trained in fire-fighting using chemicals containing the PFAS compounds. This property is owned by Dane County.

The chemicals used at the base have, over the decades, seeped into the water aquifer that is pumped from Well 15. As you will note in the map, most of the affected area is north of East Washington and just west of the I-90/94.

As a member of the Water Utility Board, my assessment is that the Utility has been slow to inform residents of the potential problems associated with the PFAS. Particularly to provide information to pre-natal infants and very young children. (These folks drink an enormous amount of water relative to their body weight. And PFAS does not decompose.)

In response, I moved to create a city-county Task Force to gather the best possible information from state and federal agencies and explore and recommend options to eliminate PFAS from our water by the time it reaches our tap. This task force will have members of the public, who live in the affected districts, other city residents, experts in the field and staff from the city and county.

There are community meetings are now planned in many of the affected communities and will assure that all neighborhoods receive the information they need.


If you have any questions, concerns or comments regarding city policies and operations please feel free to contact me at or at 334-1156.

Positively Eastside,

David Ahrens





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