December 1, 2021 Alder Update
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
I hope you had a wonderful week gathering with family and/or friends! This photo is my son (who never stops moving) after enjoying a large tryptophan-filled dinner. He's the boy you may see Monday-Friday running home on Dean Avenue after school trying to beat the bus home. The fact that he fell asleep on the couch speaks to the power of tryptophan! ;)
Below are some updates from the past month and information on things coming up that could impact your daily life in Monona. If you're wondering why you are receiving this city update, I am one of your alders and I provide these monthly updates to help you know what is going on in your community. You can always unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe button at the bottom. It will be challenging for you to find all of this information on your own however. As your alder, I am here to help you navigate solutions to problems that impact your daily lives. You can reach me by email at email@example.com. Please note that you have six alders available to help you with issues. While I arguably make myself the most available through communication like this monthly newsletter, they are all here for you. You can reach all of your alders on the City's website under the "I want to" button.
SOUTH WINNEQUAH ROAD REDESIGN - MEETING ON 12/1 at 6:30pm
This Wednesday, the Public Works Committee will review the design options for south Winnequah Road. **It is highly likely that a design will be selected at this meeting.** So if this is an issue you care about, it will be important for you to attend. The meeting will be hybrid so you can attend in person at the Library Municipal Room or through Zoom. The Zoom link can be found on the agenda of the Public Works packet.
At the November 1 council meeting, the Public Works Committee was asked to review the options again and include the one-way south option as a consideration. You can view all of the options up for consideration here. The Public Works Committee packet can be viewed here.
One concern I have is that the one-way option has not been explored as I (and many others) had hoped it would be. In the packet, you can see that the southbound one-way option on page 14 increases the roadway by about 4'. What I had hoped to see was a design that does NOT increase the roadway width. Keeping within the same footprint allows for easier snowplowing/maintenance, minimizes tree/canopy/habitat loss, does not add more concrete, but yet allows for buffered bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway. I emailed Josh Straka the engineer with Strand who is working with us on this project and he said this option would be the least costly but, he "is not prepared to present any other one-way alternatives Wednesday night." It seems like keeping the same footprint would be the most desirable and there is enough width to fit in buffered lanes for increased safety. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE DRAWINGS JOSH SENT BACK AS OPTIONS (OPTIONS THAT WILL NOT BE EXPLORED WEDNESDAY) He stated that the optimal configuration would be C, B, A. As stated earlier, it is highly likely that a design will be recommended to City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 1.
If you'd like to submit a comment to the Public Works Department for Wednesday's meeting, fill out this form by stating that you would like to submit comment for Wednesday. If you'd like to send a message to City Council, here is the link to email all Alders and the Mayor. It may be prudent to send communication to both committees.
I am concerned about taking one of the most costly solutions of adding a sidewalk when other creative options can be explored. Our property taxes will increase by about 7% this year and we still have San Damiano and the $15-20 million Public Safety building on the horizon. I've spoken with so many elderly residents and families that are financially constrained and I feel it's our duty to consider them whenever making fiscal decisions.
The toughest thing about being an alder is that these decisions are rarely black and white. We may support the idea but not the implementation. Or, we may support a part of it but not all of it. When faced with these types of decisions, I typically take the more cautious approach and vote against or abstain. They are stressful moments however because our positions can be used against us and our positions can be twisted. I am always open to a discussion if you ever wonder why I vote the way I do on issues. I always appreciate making connections with our community members.
BMO DEVELOPMENT UPDATE FROM PLAN COMMISSION IN NOVEMBER
The BMO Harris development came back to plan commission on 11/22. At that meeting, the developers shared their revised plans for the 97 unit market rate apartments proposed on the corner of West Dean and Monona Drive. The full plans can be viewed here. As many of you know, I live on the block of single family homes that backs up to this property. If you look at the photo to the right, the scale of the building can be viewed as compared to the Kwik Trip across the street. This is the length of a football field facing Monona Drive. What is currently zoned a commercial district, would have to be re-zoned as mixed use. Some of the challenges were that the developers were 27 parking stalls short on parking to accommodate their residents. They were also significantly short on green space so are incorporating a green roof. Green roofs take a great deal of maintenance/water and they do not appear to have a maintenance plan.
The development has four retail spaces that would be available at market rate rent rates (~$20/sq. ft.). Typically, local businesses cannot afford these rental rates and that was one of the big arguments against this at the plan commission. There are several small businesses like Snick's, the Antique Mini Mall and a Skateboard shop that would be displaced along with the residents who live above those businesses. The other big concerns were having between 100-200 cars traveling on Gordon Avenue and Springhaven where the entrance and exits are located. Gordon Avenue is already fully parked with high school students Monday through Friday. The Springhaven and Monona Drive intersection is very challenged with misaligned driveways and laundromat traffic blocking Springhaven when they pull out of the driveway. Two dozen children (two are mine) play on Gordon Avenue daily on that block. This apartment complex would completely change the nature of our neighborhood. If you recall when Fairway Glen was constructed, the developers purchased the single family homes on Gordon that backed up to it. They did this to create multi-family housing to create a buffer zone between apartments and a single family neighborhood.
The result of the meeting was most commissioners feeling that this is far too dense for the site. I asked them to conduct a traffic analysis/study to determine if the intersections could accommodate up to 200 additional cars moving through it. But the developers chose to revise their plans and come back at a later time to try again. If you'd like to watch the discussion, you can find the meeting on YouTube.
One other update from Plan Commission you'll see taking shape soon is the addition of a Chipolte at the corner of Monona Drive and Broadway in the former Old National Bank site. That building will be razed and two new buildings will be constructed. One will house Chipotle and the other is anticipating a medical clinic although no tenant has been identified.
PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING VIRTUAL TOURS
The Monona Police Department and the Monona Fire Department invite you to see their facilities. Watch the virtual tour video on the Monona Community Media YouTube Channel. The City has embarked upon building a new public safety building. The starting point is design/planning which will start in early 2022.
LANDMARKS COMMISSION EVALUATING THE SPRINGHAVEN PAGODA
This weekend, Chris Rickert published an article in Wisconsin State Journal on the Springhaven Pagoda at Stone Bridge Park on north Winnequah Road. For the past several months, the Landmarks Commission has been doing its due diligence to see if the pagoda can be saved. It was determined to not be in structurally sound condition after the park construction, despite the 2016 evaluation that said it was in sound condition.
Photo credit: Amber Arnold.
The rooftop was about to be poured into a newly constructed mold by a concrete company when a structural engineer determined that two columns were cracked and it could not support the weight of a new roof. So we stopped the process before incurring those costs and are seeking a second opinion. The first opinion said that it was not structurally sound and should be removed. We hope to have that second opinion by our December 8 meeting.
I was disappointed that the article did not mention the history of the spring prior to the construction of the pagoda. Our history and the history of this site did not begin at 1880. This spring and the site of Stone Bridge Park was a Ho-Chunk campsite. Prior to the reconstruction of the park this year, you could see where the deep ravine was. The high sides of the ravine were where the wigwams were setup as families fished and lived off the land. The spring was essential to them and their livelihood. As a Native woman that used this park several times a week, it has been devastating to me to see the construction that erased this history and replaced it with a maintenance heavy lawn and large amounts of concrete. I appreciated the natural wild space that was there previously. To find a park like that in the middle of an urban area is rare and so needed. Now it's a highly manicured urban space with no remaining context of what this space once was. For the record, at the public input meeting for this park redesign, everyone who spoke out (approx. 8-10 people) with the exception of one person, asked that this be left a wild and meditative space. It's frustrating to not be heard so I empathize with you if you've felt this way in the past.
THREE CITY COUNCIL SEATS OPEN FOR SPRING ELECTION
On December 1, candidates can pick up their papers from City Hall to file to run for City Council. Three seats will be open in the spring election. I'm making my official announcement here—I will be running for re-election in April 2022. If you would like to sign my candidacy papers, I invite you to join me on Wednesday, December 15 at 6pm at Muskellounge and Sporting Club located at 4102 Monona Drive. I will be there from 6-8pm so feel free to stop in!
Yours in service,
Kristie Goforth, Alder for City of Monona