Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 10:49am

An effort is underway to form a new near West Side neighborhood planning council. The effort to form the new planning council is being led by West Side alderperson Tim Gruber and Vilas Neighborhood Association President Julia Kerr. Gruber says, "This initiative represents a tremendous opportunity. A near West Side planning council will be an incredible asset to help people work together to improve our neighborhoods."

There will be a meeting for information and discussion of the new planning council on Thursday, November 2, at 7:00 p.m. at the West Madison Senior Center, 602 Sawyer Terrace (just west of Hilldale). Everyone is welcome to attend.

Gruber adds, “The new planning council will bring people together for dialogue and to learn from each other. We have common challenges on the near West Side that can best be addressed through cooperation.”

Kerr says, "A planning council will give us a way to work together on the range of complex issues that West Side neighborhoods are facing."

The boundaries of the new near West Side planning council have not been determined yet, but initial discussions have focused on the area between Park Street and Whitney Way.

The purposes of the new planning council include fostering communication between West Side neighborhood associations, business associations, UW-Madison, West Madison Senior Center, Shorewood Hills, and others; helping to strengthen neighborhood associations; and working together on issues of common interest.

There are already planning councils on the South, North, and near East Side of Madison. The effort to form the new planning council has already earned the support of a broad array of community leaders.

Rebecca Krantz, the outgoing director of the East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council and a resident of the near West Side, says, "Planning councils are a successful model for helping residents, business owners, and other community stakeholders work together to improve our neighborhoods. They are particularly important for helping people from different neighborhoods address issues that cross neighborhood boundaries. I'm excited to hear about the effort underway to start a new planning council, because the original vision in the early 1990s was that all of Madison would eventually be covered by planning councils, but many areas still do not have one. This means that a lot of folks are missing out on a good thing. Research on other cities that have organizations like planning councils shows that when this kind of systematic support for neighborhood associations is citywide, participation by different groups of people is equalized as well as deepened. Equality is a good thing, in my book."

East Side alderperson Judy Olson says, “Madison's existing planning councils have leveraged community resources, brought people together to solve problems, and made many positive contributions to City decision-making. West Side neighborhoods should have the same opportunities.”

  • Ald. Tim Gruber, District 11, 663-5264, 217-3390
  • Julia Kerr, President, Vilas Neighborhood Associat, 260-0046