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District 17


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Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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District 17 Updates

Hundreds Turn Out for District 17 Neighborhood Meeting

October 4, 2021 11:23 PM

October 3 District 17 Neighborhood Meeting

I held a neighborhood meeting yesterday, Sunday, October 3rd, in the parking lot of East Towne Mall where hundreds turned out to share their concerns around a variety of topics including; the Reindahl Park encampment; the latest attempt to purchase 2002 Zeier Rd as a temporary shelter; the rush to purchase 1902 Bartillon Dr for an undefined future use; the redistricting process; speeding issues. Many constituents said they feel like the mayor is ignoring their concerns and their voice.

Our community has long been supportive and willing to help individuals experiencing homelessness. There are many services providers working in the district providing various solutions to housing needs, mental health needs and substance abuse support. Many constituents voiced their frustrations with the lack of structure surrounding the Reindahl encampment which has led to an unsafe situation for all involved.

There was also concern about the second attempt to purchase 2002 Zeier Rd as a temporary men's shelter because the day services these individuals will depend upon is 7 miles away, near downtown. There was confusion as to why the mayor is introducing this resolution since the council voted not to purchase this location back in the spring. There were several neighborhood meetings in the spring where the constituents and local small businesses overwhelmingly agreed that this location was not in the best interest of the individual's experiencing homelessness. There was also overwhelming agreement that what the greater East Towne area needs is investment and development to turn around what is a very depressed and struggling area.

The city staff have been reviewing several locations to site the permanent men's shelter and we are within weeks of choosing one. It does not make any sense to spend $2.6M on a temporary location, uproot the current residents at the 1st street temporary shelter, commit city staff and service provider staff to organize yet another move when we are so close to choosing a permanent site. One of these identified sites has an existing building that could be transformed into a temporary facility while the permanent one is built out.

In addition, we have developers ready to invest tens of millions of dollars into the greater East Towne area but they have significant concerns about the city's committment to this area if a men's shelter is sited there. Why risk this critically needed investment to this area for a temporary solution?

I provided a handout with volunteer opportunities with organizations that are dedicated to helping end homelessness. I believe the best way to understand issues is to learn the ground truth and get involved. I was encouraged by the willingness of the residents to get involved and get behind solutions that work.  

As with all my meetings, I challenged everyone to ask themselves, do you want to be right or do you want to understand. If we choose to try and understand each other, we can start building relationships. I shared my belief that strong neighborhoods are built upon strong relationships. Anytime we can come together and build relationships, we are stronger for it. I will be hosting more neighborhood events coming up and look forward to seeing you again.

I'll leave you with one story from our meeting Sunday. One of the residents who spoke was a man who is currently living in Reindahl park. He explained the challenges he faced- divorce, lost his job, lost his house, challenges with substance abuse. He said he doesn't want to live in the park, he is just in a tough place in his life. He was brave and shared his story with us and our community rallied around him. He said he just landed a job last week and the crowd cheered for him. He said he was takings steps to get into rehab and again people cheered and were encouraging him. One resident called out and said that he might have a place he can stay and wanted to connect with him. 

This is our community.

This is who we are.


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