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Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Home Address:
4014 Major Ave.


Phone: 608-334-1156
district15@cityofmadison.com
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

"Little" and "Big" Things

April 3, 2014 2:49 PM

I often get requests from constituents about issues related to services provided by the city. Unlike issues that affect the entire city such as the recent proposal to neuter pit bulls or those that affect a neighborhood such as a controversial construction project, these service requests generally are brought to my attention by one individual even though they may affect more than one person.
For example, when I get a complaint about a pothole they are usually pretty big. No doubt, they are affecting more people than the person bringing it to my attention. When I informed the Streets Dept. of the pothole they promptly sent a crew to repair it.
Other frequents requests are about barking or dangerous dogs, improperly plowed streets, speeding cars on residential streets and other disturbances. The city's Animal Control office however, receives many more complaints than it can handle and does not have as many people on staff in the early morning or evening when people are walking their dogs.
These problems may seem minor compared to major issues such as the workings of the 911 Call Center, race-based inequities or the fast-paced growth of the Downtown. But they are of great importance not only to the individual but to our overall quality of life where we live- as a community. When the service agencies- whether that is animal control or the police department- cannot regularly respond to requests for service it takes a toll on our communities.
Like potholes every" little problem" has potential for growing. As they grow and they can change the quality of a neighborhood. Although our communities are more than the sum of its parts, each of those parts is integral to sustaining who we are. Which brings me to the subject of what some consider a "big thing."
As you may know, the Mayor has proposed that the city invest up to $60 million into a hotel/apartment complex downtown. This would be the largest city investment in our history.
For a number of reasons I have been critical of this plan. This investment would be made south of the Capitol. Comparing the average increase in property values in each of the last 12 years for this area with the non-downtown neighborhoods, we find that that the increase in this area has been 9.5 % each year while the increase in our neighborhoods has been 4%.    
The disparity between many of our neighborhoods and downtown is even greater due to the fact that some areas have had little or no growth in value over the past decade. Given these facts, it seems fair and sensible that the city should invest in the areas that need assistance. Instead, the plan is to invest in the area that is already growing at a faster rate than any other part of the city.
The millions of dollars in low interest loans, tax deferrals, public works improvements (such as new streets and infrastructure) make such developments extremely lucrative. Contrast this treatment with a constituent who opened a coffee/sandwich shop in our area. He invested and borrowed thousands of dollars to rebuild the space and install new plumbing, upgrade electrical, etc.
Not only did he not get a city loan, his property tax bill sharply increased as a result of his investment. His shop is a positive development for the neighborhood. Compare this benefit to what we will gain from a luxury hotel/apartment complex on Wilson St.
This question will be asked in many forms and is critical to the quality of the city's life now and in the years to come:  Shall we focus on these many "little things" in our neighborhood that maintain the fabric of our communities and serve the interests of city residents or the big "marquee" project that is expensive, risky and of dubious benefit except for a few?

I can be reached at district15@cityofmadison.com or at 334 1156.





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