City of
Madison

District 13

Alder Tag Evers

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Alder Tag Evers

Contact Information

Home Address:

2329 Keyes Ave
Madison , WI 53711

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

Winning, Losing, and Looking to the Light

December 12, 2020 2:19 PM

Hi Everyone.

Looking back on this past week, there have been wins and losses.

Monday night, the Transportation Policy & Planning Board (TPPB) unanimously approved an amendment to the Triangle Monona Bay Neighborhood Plan. I drafted this amendment in response to concerns expressed by Triangle residents. The amendment would limit the northern half of the new north-south public street to ped/bike only, allowing for emergency vehicle access, with the purpose of eliminating cut-through traffic and reducing risks to Triangle residents.

This was a victory, a collaborative effort to center the voices of those most impacted.

The next step is the Community Development Authority Board's January 14 meeting. Community input is essential. However, there are internet access issues on the Triangle that make participation more challenging for residents at Bayview and the CDA Apartments. It's for this reason I requested CDA take this item up during the January meeting, and not this Tues, Dec 15, as originally scheduled. We now have time to make sure all voices are heard.

The momentum of that victory did not carry over to Wednesday evening's meeting of the Board of Parks Commissioners (BPC). The item under consideration at BPC was whether to keep Vilas Park Drive closed to through traffic throughout the winter season.  The Commissioners voted to reopen the Drive despite a petition with over 500 signatures and strong testimony that the closure of the Drive has created more equitable access for young children and those with mobility issues.

Prior to the closing, upwards of 200 cars per hour during the morning and afternoon commutes were cutting through the Park, using Vilas Park Drive to more quickly get to Fish Hatchery Rd or S. Park. With the Drive closed, those commuters have formed new habits, and many public comments warned of what would be lost should we switch back to the pre-pandemic status:

"By this time, everyone (drivers, walkers, runners, bikers, skateboarders...) has gotten use to the restriction on drive-through traffic. Commuters have found and are using alternative routes; pedestrians feel safe; and park users are using the area in myriad ways that are more appropriate to a park and shoreline than ever before. Each future change in configuration or rules will result in a new period of adjustment with likely confusion, frustration, and risk to safety."

Nonetheless, BPC voted to reopen the Drive. Recognizing that the draft Vilas Park Master Plan recommends the Drive be closed to commuter traffic, the Commissioners indicated a willingness to consider an interim solution at their April meeting. The next step is forming a work group with interested residents to come up with options in conjunction with Traffic Engineering and Parks staff.  

It still felt like a defeat, an unnecessary step backwards. There are viable options that will allow equitable access while eliminating commuter traffic through this cherished park, and it's frustrating that we couldn't move in nimble fashion to execute them. It was a reminder of how the work of government can get mired in bureaucracy, that democracy can sometimes be slow and messy.

Wins and losses. Victories and defeats. Regardless of the outcome, we keep pressing on to the next challenge. We keep looking to the light.

And light is what we need. Friday's vote by the Supreme Court puts to rest the attempted coup by Trump and the sycophant GOP.  Had the Supreme Court capitulated to those crazed demands to overturn the results of the election, who knows what would have happened.  Perhaps, civil war.

The political obituary detailing Trump's legacy has been written, but its effects will be with us for years. We will need to keep looking to the light, knowing that it was moral virtue, not merely our constitutional norms, that saved us from disaster.

And light is what we need. One observant essay in the New York Times identifies a growing mental health crisis as the fourth wave of the pandemic. The dramatic spread of the virus, the increase number of infections and deaths, job losses, the disparate impacts, the prolonged social isolation – all of this happening during the cold winter months of long nights and short days leading to increased levels of hopelessness and despair.

Light is indeed what we need. And the coming light is what this month's holidays are all about. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Christmas or Kwanzaa, we are all looking to the light, for healing of the planet, a better world for all its inhabitants, for peace on earth and good will towards all humankind. 

As we let that light shine, we look out for those most vulnerable in our midst, particularly those suffering from economic hardship and those being pulled under by anxiety and depression. We light that candle for each other in acts of kindness and mutual aid, building community and connection as this most difficult year comes to a close.

If you have questions or concerns or need help in any way, please let me know. You may reach me at district13@cityofmadison.com or by calling 608.424.2580. You may also reach out to district13cares@gmail.com.

Take care and stay safe.

Tag




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