Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 1:44am
Today, District 1 Alder Lisa Subeck and District 20 Alder Matt Phair introduced a package of budget amendments to address challenges in a group of small neighborhoods on Madison's southwest side. The amendments provide desperately needed resources to address challenges of increased crime, at-risk youth, deteriorating properties, and gang and drug activity that have left these fragile neighborhoods at a tipping point.
"A small investment to improve public safety and the quality of life in our neighborhoods now will ensure we never reach the point where we need to invest tens of millions of dollars for redevelopment," said District 1 Alder Lisa Subeck. "The City of Madison has a long-time pattern of letting neighborhoods go into substantial decline before making significant improvements. We are taking a different approach by making small investments now, before our neighborhoods reach that level of need. If we are proactive, we will never have to face the kind of costly redevelopment we have seen in neighborhoods like Allied Drive and Broadway Simpson."
Specific budget amendments include:
• $30,000 for a Southwest Safety Initiative to provide resources for police overtime necessary for a concentrated period of enforcement in targeted southwest Madison neighborhoods identified by the Neighborhood Resource Teams (NRT) put into place by Mayor Soglin; targeted gang prevention and enforcement; addressing youth behavior; and improved communication and collaboration with area landlords.
• $900,000 for purchase and rehabilitation for a community center located in the Greater Elver Park area.
• $700,000 in 2013 for a spray park in the Park Ridge/Park Edge neighborhood modeled on the success of the Cypress Spray Park on the Madison's South Side.
• $60,000 for an additional building inspector to increase programmed inspection in NRT identified neighborhoods throughout the city with a high proportion of deteriorating rental housing.
"We have seen big results from small investments in the Balsam/Russett area of Meadowood. The area still has on-going needs, but the addition of a community center, a neighborhood officer, and other resources over the last several years is paying off," said District 20 Alder Matt Phair. "We need to continue our work in this neighborhood and expand it to other neighborhoods on Madison's southwest side."
At a listening session called last night by the Madison Police Department, residents of the southwest side indicated that some neighborhoods have improved, largely due to strong neighborhood watch programs and collaboration between residents, the police department, and other city agencies. Meanwhile, others indicated their neighborhoods face significant decline. Each of these neighborhoods has many long-term residents committed to neighborhood improvement, but they are looking to the city for assistance.
Three primary themes emerged at the listening session. Southwest side residents are looking for increased communication between organized neighborhood groups and the police department, additional enforcement - particularly in the case of repeat or chronic offenses, and increased police presence on the ground patrolling and building relationships in our neighborhoods.
"We are looking to provide our southwest side neighborhoods with the resources they need to thrive. We have a real opportunity to build on the strong assets of our neighborhoods and their residents as we overcome the challenges of stabilizing neighborhoods on the tipping point," added Phair.
Recognizing the budget challenges faced by the city, both Subeck and Phair have sponsored or are committed to voting for cuts elsewhere in the budget.
"In tough budget times, we set priorities. Public safety and quality of life in our neighborhoods have to come first," concluded Subeck. "And given the high cost of turning around a troubled neighborhood in complete decline, we can't afford not to act now before it's too late."
Targeted neighborhoods include: Bettys/Teresa/Hammersley, Park Ridge/Park Edge, Balsam/Russett, Prairie/Raymond, and other challenged pockets throughout the broader southwest side of Madison.Contacts:
- Ald. Lisa Subeck, District 1, (608) 358-7090
- Ald. Matt Phair, District 20, (608) 772-1187