Alder Syed Abbas,
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Abbas’ Blog
District 12 Round Up
2017 City Budget
Not only does the end of August bring students back to school, it begins the Common Council's discussion of the next city budget. For city staff, it really begins back in January so there is an extraordinary amount of work putting together each year's budget.
We're just starting the discussion, and as a general rule we begin with what we did in the current year, annualize things that might have only been added for partial years, and then review what we should no longer do or items that as a community we would like to add.
Most people are interested in the Operating Budget, which pays for salaries of our city staff and most other items like supplies. The Capital Budget works with larger city funded projects, such as road construction or new buildings. The Council adopts both budgets in November.
The Council is always interested in your opinion and we generally set-up listening sessions, online discussions and public hearings at our meetings. In addition, you are always welcome to email me directly at email@example.com to express your concerns, issues and opportunities.
Willy Street North
It's great to see that the former Pierce's Grocery Store in the Northside Town Center is now open for business. Not all is ready, but the basics are there. I encourage you to take a look and consider shopping on the northside for your food and beverage needs.
Demetral Bike Path
The long-anticipated reconstruction of the Demetral Bike Path is happening. It's great to see the path going in beside the park parking lot (instead of through it) which has previously confused new riders.
For more information about the project, please see the city webpage.
There is still more work to be done. Connections need to occur at both the north and south end of the path. On the south, we need to connect at the PDQ through the median triangles onto First Street and the new Public Market. On the north, we need to connect to Aberg Avenue and through the Oscar Mayer site.
The Demetral Bike Path forms the core of biking in the area and I'm excited to see us strengthening this backbone as we expand bike services on the North and Eastside.
Oscar Mayer site
You might have heard recently in the news about a meeting to discuss the future of the Oscar Mayer site. The city is very engaged and interested in the reuse of the site. However, at this time the facility is still active and there is currently no specified developer, two factors that will determine any future re-use and the timeline.
It has become more clear that the buildings on the site will be a significant challenge to re-use. There are several buildings on site, all served by a single heating and cooling facility. If we were to remove a building, then the balance between its capacity and need is shifted. Rectifying this might become more expensive than demolition and new. In addition, demolition uncovers more surface area for potential remediation.
Recently the resident-initiated OSCAR Group meet with the Mayor and myself concerning community engagement in whatever is planned for reuse of the site. I am completely in agreement that residents and neighbors need more opportunity to be part of the conversation.
Many years ago, the former Royster-Clark fertilizer factory on Cottage Grove Road was closed. At the time I was the Alder, and working with city staff, the Mayor and the adjacent neighborhood associations we created a specific Special Area Plan for the site. This plan, developed by an ad-hoc city committee, was adopted by the Common Council. It is the current blueprint for the site's redevelopment.
I have engaged city planning staff to consider working on a Special Area Plan for the Oscar Mayer site. I believe planning a site prior to an actual General Development Plan (GDP) submitted by a future developer is advantageous as it doesn't limit the discussion to a specific concept, engages residents in larger visioning for re-use and involves residents in learning about the city's planning, development and zoning processes.
I will continue to peruse both larger community oriented discussion as well as this special area plan concept over the next few months. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.
Town of Madison Annexation
Also recently, there has been more information about a proposal to move up the dissolution of the Town of Madison. While the majority of the Town of Madison is located near the Beltline, there is still a part located between Sherman and Fordem Avenue. Both Alder Zellers (District 2) and I are interested in making sure that any annexation process is a benefit for both the city and town residents and provide an opportunity for the northside. The area was included in the Emerson East – Eken Park – Yahara (EEEPY) Neighborhood plan that was recently adopted. We intentionally included this area in anticipation of the future inclusion of the area and good planning doesn't always end at municipal boundaries.
As with many of these items, I will continue to provide more information as it is relevant.
Madison Public Market
Just a short note that the Public Market proposed on First Street continues forward. We continue to look at either the Fleet Services or the Fiore Shopping Center site. The Local Food Committee, which I serve on, has recommended hiring an architect for site planning and architectural design services, as well as implementing a "MarketReady" program that is designed to support future public market vendors. "The MarketReady Program will be a training, technical assistance, and micro-enterprise grant program designed to help prospective Public Market vendors become ready to start their business and operate within the Madison Public Market when it opens."
Pennsylvania Park Planning
The Emerson East neighborhood has been highly engaged in discussing the future of Pennsylvania Park located between First and Second Street along East Johnson Avenue. The city has purchased the house at the corner of East Johnson and First Street and plans to demolish the house (including the low concrete wall) this November. Next Spring, we will re-align and widen the pedestrian/bike path at First Street. More improvements will occur when First Street is improved as part of the East Johnson Street reconstruction.
The neighborhood is interested in creating a "sustainable" urban park. Ideas such as installing a drinking fountain, bike repair kiosk, creating gathering spaces, planning edible landscaping, fruit trees and berries, and a bus shelter with a rain barrel as a demonstration of sustainable practices. There will continue to be more discussion at future neighborhood meetings.
As always, if you have any questions, concerns or observations, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you have a wonderful Back To School season and look forward to seeing you at the Willy Street Coop North!
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