City of

District 18

Alder Rebecca Kemble

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Alder Rebecca Kemble

Contact Information

Home Address:

4217 School Rd
Madison , WI 53704

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 Kemble’s Blog

Curb, Gutter and Sidewalks Meeting September 7 at Warner Park

August 10, 2017 3:44 PM

Last Saturday the Lakeview Hill Neighborhood Association hosted a community meeting to disuss upcoming street reconstruction in the neighborhood. I was unable to attend the meeting due to my work schedule, but I understand that it was well attended with a lot of good discussion.

Thanks to the meeting organizers and especially to Char Tortorice for compiling the questions generated by those in attendance. I have forwarded them on to city staff so they will be prepared with answers at the public meeting I have organized for September 7. The meeting will be held from 6:30 - 8:30 at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center. 

Based on some of the questions forwarded from the meeting, it seems that there is still some misunderstanding about what will be happening with reconstruction of unimproved streets - streets with no curb and gutter -  in the Lakeview Hill neighborhood, as well as other neighborhoods in District 18. 

First of all, the only streets scheduled for reconstruction in District 18 are Lake View Ave. (to include one block of Hanover between Lake View and Drewry in order to connect to new sanitary and storm sewer at Hanover & Drewry), Knudson between Green and Highway 113, and Westport Rd. Those projects are all scheduled for 2020. 

No other streets in the whole of District 18 - including the Lakeview Hill, Mendota Hills, North Lake Mendota and Lerdahl Park neighborhoods - are currently scheduled for reconstruction, or for installation of curb, gutter or sidewalks.

The City of Madison has a long term plan for "rural to urban" reconstruction of unimproved streets of which the Knudson/Westport project is a part. But there are over 50 miles of unimproved streets in the city, and Engineering only gets the budget and has the workforce to reconstruct 1-2 miles per year. Staff from City Engineering have assured me that it will be at least 10 years before any other street in District 18 would get onto this schedule. The only caveat being that if there were problems with the utilities under the street and the street had to be ripped up to repair or install utilities - as is the case with Lake View Ave. - that street would get on the schedule sooner.

If your street already has curb and gutter, it is considered to be an improved street and is no longer part of the "rural to urban" program. There are no plans to install sidewalks on streets that currently have curb and gutter but no sidewalks (e.g. the 4100 and 4200 blocks of Barby and Mandrake, Zeno St. among many others in District 18). 

When sidewalks are installed, they are done in conjunction with street reconstruction projects. Not all street reconstruction projects involve sidewalks, however. City planning, engineering, traffic engineering and Madison Metro staff evaluate each street in terms of being on a transit route, being a pedestrian route to a school or commercial center, volume of traffic, among other variables, to determine whether or not sidewalks should be installed. The city's Complete Streets policy does not dictate that every street have a sidewalk.

The city maintains currently existing sidewalks on a 10 year schedule. Districts 12 and 18 are on the schedule for sidewalk repair for the year 2023. The schedule for sidewalk repair does not affect streets without sidewalks. As mentioned above, sidewalks are installed in conjuction with street reconstruction and not as part of the sidewalk repair program.

I will ensure that neighbors are fully informed and have as much lead time as possible to organize engagement with street reconstruction projects. Typically the design process begins one year before scheduled reconstruction. I serve on several transportation committees where street reconstruction projects and budgets come up for review on a regular basis. You can be assured that as long as I am in office I will notify constituents as soon as I hear that a major project like street reconstruction is scheduled for District 18.

This week I've been hearing some outlandish claims about the upcoming street project for Lake View Ave. from residents who have contacted me, deeply disturbed by what some neighbors are telling them. Here are just a few of the rumors that have been circulating:

  • Even though the only project currently scheduled for the neighborhood is Lake View Ave., the entire Lakeview Hills neighborhood is at risk and the city can decide to reconstruct your street and force sidewalks on you with only a year's notice.
  • If curb, gutter and sidewalks are installed within three years after you sell your house, you will still be assessed for the cost after the fact even though you no longer own the property.
  • People are selling their houses in anticipation of the assessments associated with curb, gutter and sidewalk installation. 
  • The city plans to widen Lake View Ave and will make you install a retaining wall on your property.
  • The Alder has a personal agenda for pushing sidewalks on the neighborhood because she has a relative who lives there who doesn't like walking in the street; version 2 of this rumor says it's because the Alder walks her dog in the neighborhood and she doesn't like walking in the street.

I've addressed the first point with the information provided above.

The second claim is absolutely false and absurd on its face.

I visited with a resident of Lake View Ave. earlier this week who told me that the houses for sale on the street were due to familiy decisions having to do with moving to another city, moving to another school attendance area, and the death of a spouse.

The cost associated with street reconstruction is a serious concern. Residents are assessed $50 per lineal foot of curb and gutter, $90 per lineal foot of curb, gutter and sidewalk, or $70 per lineal foot of curb, gutter and sidewalk if is a city-funded "safe route" street. This assessment can be paid over 8 years, or over 15 years if the Board of Public Works approves of a special assessment area. The city also has a reverse mortgage program to assist homeowners on fixed incomes so that they don't have to pay any of the assessment charges until their house is sold. 

If the street reconstruction project requires that a retaining wall be installed, the city pays for 100% of that cost.

As for the last point, I would ask people to contact me directly if they think I am not performing my duties as a public servant with integrity. I do have a niece who lives on Hanover who will be affected by the 2020 reconstruction project, but I'm not aware of her opinions regarding sidewalks. I have never walked my dog in the eastern portion of the Lakeview Hill neighborhood. 

In my communication with residents about this issue I have pointed out reasons why sidewalks are important to various groups of people for pedestrian safety, and that there are legitimate reasons why the city has adopted a Complete Streets policy. That doesn't mean I don't have concerns about costs, how they are paid, optimal ways for dealing with stormwater, or the preservation of trees. It certainly doesn't mean that I am pushing sidewalks on anyone.

Nothing about the reconstruction projects scheduled for 2020 has been decided yet, apart from when they will happen. Even that is not a given as projects are often pushed back for budgetary reasons. I am confident that when the time comes to begin designing these projects, residents and city staff can work together to preserve the character of the neighborhoods - including preserving trees - while providing for improved stormwater management and pedestrian safety. 

Please come to the September 7 meeting where staff from Planning, Engineering, Traffic Engineering, Metro and the Water Utility will be on hand to answer your specific questions.


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