Alder Steve King
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210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Hello District 7 Residents:
I wanted to share a few important updates on issues in the City, and in particular, our area. We now have the ability to update our own website area, and to push out information via e-mail when updates are posted. If you haven't before, please take a moment and sign up for District 7 updates through the link on my home page. It's definitely the most efficient and economical way for me to share information with you.
Overall crime in our area last year was slightly up overall, but mostly level or down in most of the "quality of life" categories. Total incidents for our area increased from 2,926 to 3,085 (an increase of 159) but almost all of that increase was related to traffic enforcement which increased by 161. Traffic and speeding related issues continue to be a top concern for residents in both police department surveys and in my correspondence, so I'm happy to see that enforcement has been strengthened here.
Captain Wahl also noted that burglaries were down from 57 to 47, thefts from autos were level decreasing slightly from 62 to 60, and damage to property fell from 59 to 44. There was a spike in activity over the summer but that was short-lived and concentrated in a few areas.
In this year's budget, the Council approved the addition of five more neighborhood police officers. These officers will most likely be deployed in "hot spots" in the City. While our area is not one of these (fortunately!), the additional resources will allow the department to more effectively and efficiently respond to issues, and more importantly, be more proactive throughout the City.
Stay plugged in! The Police Department's webpage continues to be a great place for information. Sign up for the "Blotter" feature which allow you to receive updates. Check out the West District's page to sign up for this and for other important information and links. MPD also has a Twitter account and Facebook page.
And now for my standard reminders:
Please lock your outside doors at all times. And lock interior doors that lead to your garage. If at all possible, install motion detector lights, particularly at the sides and rear of your house. Buy energy efficient lights and keep them on all night around your garage. And of course, always lock cars and close all doors. I know this sounds simplistic and common sense, but in many of the burglaries these simple measures would have helped to prevent crime.
Last but not least, know your neighbors and keep an eye out for each other. If you see someone's paper out for more than a couple of days, pick it up for them. If you ever see anything even remotely suspicious, report it immediately. The police non-emergency number is 266-4948.
Most of the development within the district has been focused on residential apartments. The demand for this type of housing across the City has remained very high and vacancy rates in some areas are at or below two percent. One larger building was completed in August off of Fairhaven, and another is under construction in the same area off of Maple Grove Drive that will come online later in 2015. The Town of Verona has approved the construction of some apartments at the NW corner of Fitchrona Road and Nesbitt that will also be completed in late 2015.
Oakwood Corporation has proposed an 80+ unit affordable housing development at the area near Stonecreek Drive and Highway PD (the westernmost part of the empty parcel there). This has gotten initial approval by the City and has my support. Please note, this is not "Section 8" housing. The developer, with the City's backing, will be using tax incentivized financing to develop most units that are below market rate rents. It also includes some family-friendly three bedroom units in the mix. This development is part of a larger effort by the City to increase the stock of affordable housing options.
At the request of residents, I have initiated a process to review and adjust the zoning for the empty farmland parcel that is next to Chavez Elementary. Under the Cross Country Neighborhood Plan this area is zoned for medium density development. Given the incremental increases in density that all of the most recent developments have added, I am proposing an amendment to the Plan to decrease the zoning in this area to single family in the interior and slightly higher density on the Maple Grove corridor. This process will be complete this winter.
I am not currently aware of any development proposals for the SW corner of the PD/Maple Grove intersection.
Road Construction and Traffic Concerns:
My updates on road construction often seem like a "broken record," especially with regard to the reconstruction of Highway PD from Maple Grove to Highway M. The reconstruction/resurfacing of this segment has been pushed back once again and is currently scheduled for 2019. This is coordinated with revised plans to do a major, and much needed, reconstruction of the intersection of PD and M. Original plans for this intersection used the concept of a large traffic circle, but further analysis by Planning indicated this would likely not meet future demand given increases in employment at Epic and other development on the western area of City. Instead, it will include and overpass/underpass concept with free-flow diversion lanes in certain directions.
Regarding traffic concerns: I am still pursuing having a traffic light installed at the intersection of Muir Field, Country Grove and PD. Also note that the automatic speed indicator signs have finally been installed at the approaches to Chavez on Maple Grove. These have proven to be very effective at reducing speeds and currently the City only positions them in high safety need/school zone areas. We'll be working on a policy to expand this to other areas. I would like to get them on the northern segment of Maple Grove between Putnam and PD, and also on the cut-through segment of Carnwood between Maple Grove and Muir Field.
Residents on the Ice Age Drive corridor are requesting some traffic calming to reduce speeds on their street. There will be a petition process in the area to examine options. Most likely this will involve some well-positioned speed humps similar to those on Country Grove Drive.
Although reports in the media seemed to give the perception that the City budget was quite contentious this year, there was agreement on nearly every major item. There were a few issues that dominated last minute discussions, but for the most part the process was smooth and based on consensus.
One of those last minute items involved giving an additional .5% pay raise to City employees who were scheduled within the budget to receive 1.5%. This relates to an effort to bring parity back to all City workers given that Police and Fire have contracts giving them 3% raises. I support this effort, but we must examine how to fund it. Given our lengthy process with input from many stakeholders, doing it at the last minute was controversial. A more robust process to look at funding options will be pursued by the Mayor and Council in the coming months.
A few budget highlights:
- The City's yard waste collection sites, including the South Point site, will continue to operate under current year hours.
- Future year earmarks for capital projects involving the creation of a new police district station on the near west side of the City off of Mineral Point Road and projects to renovate the Madison Municipal Building.
- Necessary expenditures identified to keep the planning for a public market moving.
- $5+ million for major snowplowing events.
- Continued funding to maintain and increase the pilot program for residential and commercial composting.
Special note about the Urban Forestry Fee: The Council adopted a plan to enact a special fee related to the impacts of the Emerald Ash Borer and the implementation of the comprehensive plan which was developed to deal with the issue. The overall level of this fee will only cover a fraction of the estimated annual $6 million cost to deal with the EAB issue. Some of the details have yet to be worked out, but most likely the average single family home would see an annual fee on their Municipal Service bill less than $10. This will be offset mostly by the removal of the landfill fee. This special fee will also include a sunset provision to check whether it is still needed when we have more detailed historical data about the EAB's true impact and costs.
Winter is here, and so are alternate side parking rules!
The City approved and will be offering the option for residents to pay property taxes in four installments this coming year. More information is here and will be available with your statements in mid-December.
Streetlights should be installed in the coming months for the two block section of Maple Grove Drive adjacent to Copp's and the newer apartment development that was recently completed. This segment is particularly dark and I'm thankful to several residents for bringing this to my attention. It should have been identified when the development plan for the site was approved.
The City's website has undergone a significant redesign with some added features and better accessibility from mobile devices. "Report a Problem" remains one of the most valuable ways to contact the City for non-emergency concerns and information.
Check out the My Waste app on your smart phone! Check out this page for more information! Kudos to everyone at the City for moving the technology dial and creating more useful tools for residents to link to information regarding City services.