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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Alder King’s District 7 Newsletters
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 the left. It's definitely the most efficient and economical way for me to share information with you.
Unlike last year when there was a rash of high-profile robberies in the area, this year has been relatively calm – definitely not calm for those that experienced crime, but just from a statistical perspective. The overall calls for service for our district area were slightly lower in 2016 compared to 2015. The primary reports continue to be thefts from autos, traffic stops (speeding through our neighborhoods), burglaries and noise complaints. For comparison, our area is low for Madison in most of these categories and Madison is low for a community its size.
Like other Council members, I view public safety as the foundation of our quality of life in Madison and a key budget priority. Our police continue to focus on proactive ways to engage the community through neighborhood police officers and involvement with neighborhood resource teams which are active in more crime-troubled areas of the City (there are none directly in District 7). As mentioned below, the Council continued a funding strategy to create a new Midtown Police Station on the near west side (off of Mineral Point road) that will be fully operational in 2019, but have some capacity before then in a phased approach. It is hoped that this will help the overburdened West Side Police District and provide a more equitable and efficient spread of resources within the City.
Earlier this fall the Council approved spending $400,000 out of our contingent reserve fund (NOT the Police Department's budget) to fund a study and review of Madison PD's practices and procedures, under the direction of a citizen-led Committee (The Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee) that was formed by the Council the prior year. Let me be crystal clear: My vote (along with 18 of my colleagues) to fund this study does NOT imply that I do not support the police and the hard work they are doing for residents in the City. It does imply that I think a review of the department that represents our largest budget line item is prudent and ensuring that ALL members of our community share my respect and trust in the police is critical.
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 annual 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 255-2345.
Most of the development within and around the district has continued to be focused on residential apartments. The demand for this type of housing across the City and in the surrounding burbs has remained very high and vacancy rates in some areas are at or below two percent.
The 80 unit affordable housing development from Oakwood Corporation at the area near Stonecreek Drive and Highway PD (the westernmost part of the empty parcel there) is nearing completion. According to Oakwood, the buildings will be ready for occupancy on March 1st and April 1st next year. To reiterate, this project had my full support as a part of the City's overall affordable housing strategy. There is a lot of misinformation about what "affordable housing" really is, particularly related to Section 42 tax credits. Please note, this is not "Section 8" housing. The developer (Oakwood), with the City's backing, is 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.
Imagine Madison – Updating the City's Comprehensive (Land Use) Plan:
The City has begun the process to update the City's Comprehensive Plan – our overall land use map and strategy for the City. The project - entitled "Imagine Madison" - has many public input components over the next year. We are committed to being more inclusive in the process so that we are proactive in making sure as many voices are heard as possible. How we grow as a City is important to all of us! Check out Imagine Madison for more info on how you can get involved and to sign up for updates along the way. The overall process will be completed in spring 2018.
As indicated last year, at the request of residents, I will use this review process to 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.
I am not currently aware of any active development proposals for the SW corner of the PD/Maple Grove intersection.
Road Construction and Traffic Concerns:
Information about the Highway PD reconstruction and planning can be found here. There has already been one public feedback session on the proposed plan thus far. Adjustments will surely be made. Construction is now planned for 2017 and will include a signalized intersection at Muir Field/Country Grove and some much needed improvements to the intersection at Maple Grove Drive.
As you all know from the hundreds of orange construction cones, the second stage of the Verona Road Project is well underway which affects the corridor south of the Beltline from Raymond Road to beyond Highway PD. A map of the construction schedule is here. The final schedule goes out to 2020! In the final two years, when the Highway PD/Verona Road construction is at its peak, the other end of the district will be dealing with the Highway M (Pleasant View Road) construction. A lot of needed infrastructure improvements for the growing Southwest Side and a lot of traffic headaches as well.
After 9½ and 6 hour meetings (!), the Mayor and Council agreed to the City's capital and operating budgets on November 15.
A few budget highlights:
- Another approval of capital funding for a new "Midtown" police station on the near west side to be partly operational beginning in 2018 and fully operational by 2019. Some of this is a delay over what was previously agreed to under the prior budget. I, along with other Council members from the West Side, will be vigilant in following up to ensure that it stays on track.
- Necessary expenditures to advance the public market project on the near east side but with some continued provisions about identifying non-City funding sources and more specifics regarding future plans (and who will own and operate the facility in the future). I am cautiously optimistic that we can figure out a path that will ultimately reduce the City's long-term financial involvement in the project.
- A follow-through on a commitment by both the Mayor and Council to work towards alleviating some wage parity issues by approving a 2.0% pay increase for most City workers.
- The largest line item in the capital budget continues to be road repair and construction. The largest single line item area in the operating budget, apart from wages and benefits for salaries across all departments, continues to be the Police Department.
The bottom line was a historically average increase in the City's portion of the tax assessment at 3.55% (last year it was 3.49%). For a house valued at $200,000, that's an increase of about $70 per year.
Winter is here, and so are alternate side parking rules!
As I mentioned last year, the Emerald Ash Borer was found in our area not far from Maple Grove Drive and Chavez Elementary. Most of the ash trees located on public property (City parks and terraces) in our area have been removed already and a replacement strategy is underway that will continue into 2018. As a part of our capital budget this year, we approved nearly $1M for an oversized "woodchipper" to deal with all of the ash trees that will be cut down in the City.
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.