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District 13

Alder Tag Evers

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Alder Tag Evers

Contact Information

Home Address:

2329 Keyes Av

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Evers’ Blog

Monroe Street Library and Vilas Park Drive update

July 2, 2020 1:50 PM

Hi Everyone.

Last week I learned of the recommendation to temporarily close the Monroe Street Library for all of 2021. 

I immediately responded by asking for an alternative solution which would maintain curbside service for at least two or three days per week.

It's important that we understand the reasoning behind the recommendation. Incomplete information can lead to rumors that tend to heighten anxiety and fear. 

There are three main factors contributing to this recommendation.

First, due to the small size of the Monroe Street branch relative to social distancing requirements, it will not be possible to open the library to in-house patrons until a time after Covid.

Second, the entire city is facing severe budget constraints.  Every department is tasked with coming up with cuts so that we can get to a balanced budget come November.

Third, a systems-wide anaylsis of service areas which can better sustain these cuts, the question of resiliency is an important consideration.  It's not implausible that residents proximate to the Monroe Street branch are better positioned to deal with a reduction in service than other neighborhoods with less relative wealth and assets.  

In other words, equity considerations, not insignificant in our current moment, must be kept in mind.

I know folks are alarmed, but no final decision is imminent.  This is the initial stage in getting feedback, with a final decision on this to be made by Common Council during November budget deliberations.

There is a meeting of the Library Board this afternoon at 5 PM.  Some of you have expressed your concerns directly to the Library Director, Greg Mickells.  If so, you likely received this response:

I want to thank everyone who has shared their concerns, their stories, and especially their passion for public libraries.  We know how important Monroe Street Library is to the neighborhood and the temporary closure of the library has not been an easy decision to propose.  We are reaching out to those who've contacted the Library Board and while we're unable to individually answer all questions at this time, we know that many of the questions raised will be discussed at the upcoming Library Board meeting.

We have made our recommendation with your safety in mind.  The restrictions on providing services during the pandemic will not allow us to fully open the Monroe Street Library for much of 2021.  The limited space does not allow for a safe environment for staff or the public if proper social distancing requirements are followed.  Unfortunately, many of the ways you have shared how you use Monroe Street Library are not possible during the pandemic. 

We have proposed three possible scenarios for the Library Board's consideration.  The temporary closure of Monroe Street Library was not the only difficult decision proposed to reach a budget with a 5% reduction.   Our proposals also include a significant reduction in staff, reduction in hours at other libraries, and major reductions to our programs and services.  All proposed scenarios do prioritize libraries that serve higher percentages of populations of color and that are located in economically-challenged service areas.

The proposed budget will be reviewed by the Library Board on July 2, 2020.  The Library Board's approved budget will then be sent to the Mayor for her review. The Mayor's proposed executive budget will be released on October 6, 2020. Residents will have an opportunity to share public comment at the Library Board meeting on July 2, at the Finance Committee review on October 12-13, 2020, or at the final approval session by the Common Council on November 10-12, 2020. 

Since the July 2, 2020, Library Board will be a virtual meeting, you can register online  to voice your support or opposition, and you must register if you would like to speak on the topic.  You will need the Agenda item # when you register.  The Operating Budget is Agenda Item #10.  The meeting will begin promptly at 5:00 pm Central.  Public comment will begin very soon after the start of the meeting. 

Here are the instructions for sharing comments, registration, or how to attend via telephone without needing to register:

1. Written Comments: You can send comments on agenda items to

2. Public Registration: You can register your support or opposition to an agenda item by clicking here.  If you wish to speak at the virtual meeting on an agenda item, you must register. When you register, you will be sent an email with the information you will need to join the virtual meeting.

3. Listen to the Meeting: You can call-in to the Meeting Body meeting:

• Listen to audio via phone: (877) 853-5257 (Toll Free) Webinar ID: 916 1123 7662

If you need an interpreter, translator, materials in alternate formats or other accommodations to access this service, activity or program, please call the phone number below immediately.

Si necesita un intérprete, un traductor, materiales en formatos alternativos u otros arreglos para acceder a este servicio, actividad o programa, comuníquese inmediatamente al número de teléfono que figura a continuación.

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Contact: Madison Public Library Administration office 608-266-6342 or

Vilas Park Drive update

On a different topic, due to the spike in Covid cases, Vilas Park shelter reservations have been canceled.  Consequently, Vilas Park Drive will remain closed to vehicular traffic to at least July 15.

Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp notified me this morning of this decision:

PHMDC has issued updated orders that were effective today at 8AM, in response to the high number of COVID cases within the community.  As such, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 and indoor gatherings are limited to 10.  This led Madison Parks to cancel park shelter reservations, and we are doing so through the month of July.  It is essential that we do our part to reduce the number of gatherings to the extent possible, and shelter reservations are a significant area of concern.  Due to the cancellation of shelter reservations and the need to try to reduce gatherings in the parks, we are going to keep the barricades in place  and Vilas Park Drive closed through at least July 15.  In the meantime, we will continue to work with Traffic Engineering on possible options and will be working to set up a meeting with you to discuss options/implementation. 

I do think it is critical to recognize that Vilas Park Drive has been a primary access point for the park shelter, beach, shoreline, and the zoo for a very long time.  Closure of the drive does have negative impacts on some park users.  Clearly, closure has benefits to others.  I want to ensure you that we see the multiple perspectives here and value each of them (except the cut through drivers, I don't really care much about that being a park value).  We, therefore, have a balancing issue, which I recognize means a suboptimal solution today and into the near future.  The ultimate solution to this is through a planned design to allow the park to function well for as many users as we can.  

I will continue to monitor both situations, the future of Monroe Street Library and decisions around Vilas Park Drive, and do my best to keep you apprised of any changes.

Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions and concerns: 608.424.2580 and

Be Safe. Be well. Be kind.


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