Alder Grant Foster
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Foster’s Updates
Dempsey/Davies Update, Vision Zero, NA Meetings - D15 Update 1/10/22
Staying in touch
Last January, a D15 resident asked on a neighborhood Facebook group, "What Does Grant Foster Do?" The question was prompted by the recommendation of the Task Force on Government Structure to move from a part-time to full-time common council. I responded with this blog post, sharing some of the general facts about my experience as an alder over my first term.
In April, voters weighed in on that recommendation with 55% voting no to "the City of Madison transition[ing] to a full-time Common Council".
Around that same time, I took on some additional non-alder responsibilities that reduced the amount of time I had available for alder work. Where I was averaging over 45 hours/week during the first term, I am currently able to commit a bit over 30 hours/week. This is still a sizable commitment and I don't believe there are many other alders doing more, but it has forced me to refocus and reprioritize my work.
One thing that hasn't changed is the amount of emails and phone calls (and text and Facebook messages) that I receive from constituents, business owners, developers, city staff, colleagues, and others. I still receive over 100 emails/day related to city business. While many of these don't require a response or further action, those that do can take a lot of time. These range from pleas for help from residents that have been unsuccessful getting the assistance they need from other channels, to angry and insulting emails from those that are upset about things that are happening (or not happening) in the city or who disagree with something I wrote in an update or my position on a particular issue.
Responding to constituents and others that reach out to me is one of the things that I continue to prioritize with my reduced capacity, but fewer hours has had an impact on how quickly I'm able to respond. Also, many emails require me to reach out to any number of other individuals in order to get background information in order to respond effectively. When their responses to me are delayed, that slows down my responses as well.
I generally try to respond within one week for non-urgent emails, but during especially busy times that goal is not always met. Over the holidays, for example, I took time off from city business to spend with family and I am still working to catch up on a number of emails received during that time.
If you've reached out to me and haven't heard back, please don't hesitate to send a follow up. I don't feel great saying that and would much prefer to be able to respond to all emails as soon as they come in. But it's extraordinarily difficult to meet that standard given the high demands for my attention, my other commitments, and the low level of administrative support for alders.
One of the policy issues I've been focused on to try and help improve this in the long run is for the city to implement a 311 system. This would make it easy for residents to connect directly with the appropriate city staff to get answers and report issues related to city services. Many of the emails and calls I receive today do not need the attention of an alder and a 311 system could help get everyone the help they need faster. Until that system is in place, the city's website does include a lot of resources as well as links to report issues and is a good resource for those that need assistance. Of course, I'm still happy to help with whatever's needed; especially if you run into roadblocks or barriers.
I will also be trying virtual office hours again soon and that could be another opportunity for those that would like to connect to talk about issues. I had some interest when I started that last year, but the interest dropped off pretty quickly and I found myself in an empty Zoom room. Watch for another chance to pop in and talk about what's on your mind soon. There's genuinely nothing I value more than hearing from D15 residents to help ensure I'm able to represent you on the council.
On Thursday, there was a well attended public information meeting to review the proposed design for the Dempsey/Davies reconstruction project. A number of neighbors asked about the potential to consider a shared use path for biking instead of the proposed bike lanes and many others were supportive of this idea. City staff and I believe there is merit to this idea and I have asked that we fully consider it before finalizing the recommended design. This means that the final presentation at the Transportation Commission that was originally planned for this Wednesday will be postponed. You can find links to the current proposal as well as a recording of Thursday's meeting and the presentation on the project page here. If you have additional questions, comments or opinions you'd like to share on this project and the proposals, including the potential of a separated path instead of painted bike lanes, please send me an email. I will provide another update on this project soon.
Vision Zero Action Plan
The Transportation Policy and Planning Board will review the proposed Vision Zero Action Plan on Monday beginning at 5p. They will also get a presentation on the Greater East Towne Plan. You can find all the details for the meeting here.
Neighborhood Association Meetings
There are three D15 neighborhood association meetings scheduled for this week: LENA (Lake Edge) on Monday, ECA (Eastmorland) on Tuesday, and SASY on Thursday. Follow the links for more details where they're available.
In the news
District 15 Public Works Projects
(You can find a list of all engineering projects in District 15 here.)
Save the date
January 17 - All potential applicants for the Neighborhood Grant Program must meet with city staff. Applications will be due February 7. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request your pre-application meeting, and check the city's webpage for 2022 program materials.
January 26 - Safe Streets Madison project prioritization at Transportation Commission
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