It is SUMMER! I hope you're all enjoying more freedom and working toward living your best lives. We all deserve
happiness, freedom, and time spent in ways we love whether that be with family and friends, on the water, or quiet time in a park.
I just wrapped up the Free Bikes 4 Kidz bike giveaway season with a new record of 2,000 bikes given away. It's such fulfilling work! My kids and I are enjoying biking around town and at the new trail at Maywood Park. The ice cream truck has been visiting our street every week and if it is nearby, my kids will chase him down to make sure he hits Gordon Avenue.
Below are some updates from the past month and some things that are coming up.
MASS TRANSIT COMMISSION SURVEY
The Mass Transit Commission has issued a transit survey for non-riders and riders to help us ensure that the service is meeting the needs of the community. It's a short survey and should take less than three minutes to complete. We have issued a RFP for our next bus contract for five years and input from the survey will help us know how we can serve you better. Please make your voice heard especially if you don't ride the bus but wish we had more options!
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUNDING
Monona stands to receive $810,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan. Funds must be spent by the end of the calendar year of 2024. While we have not yet discussed this at city council, I have been doing research and collecting input on ways you think we should allocate these resources. Some of the feedback I've received is for property tax relief for those who are struggling, finding ways to pollinate small businesses, helping those struggling to afford rent payments, and enhancing our transit options. If you have something you'd like to add, please email me. Here is an article from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities that provides some good guidance on how NOT to screw this up and what we should be thinking about. The quote in the article that I think needs special attention is this: "Nailing down this balance – how to spend money today to save money down the road – requires a careful analysis of your data, along with a serious commitment to citizen engagement."
COMMUNITY PEACE WALK ON FRIDAY, JUNE 18 AT 1PM
On Friday, June 18, the City of Monona will celebrate Juneteenth with a ceremony and community peace walk
starting at City Hall. The event will start at 1:00 p.m. with Monona’s Court Clerk, Toya Harrell, singing the first verse of the Black National Anthem. You may be asking why is this important in Monona when we only have about 100 Black residents. It is important to have an event that shows our Black residents that we support them and that they are welcome here. The past year was a tough for all of us but it was especially difficult for Black Americans. They were one of the groups hit hardest by Covid-19.
It’s important for us to lift others up so they know that they matter, that we as city leaders care about everyone who resides in our city. We’ve all recited the pledge of allegiance and the line “for liberty and justice for all” is what we’re talking about here. Juneteenth isn’t about race, it’s about freedom.
The event will be a community peace walk in celebration of Juneteenth to show support for Black sisters and brothers who live in and around Monona. The event will end by 2:00 p.m. After the singing and event welcome, attendees will walk around Winnequah School leading to the path around the pool and will head back to City Hall. After all return back to City Hall, people will be invited to make remarks. Everyone is invited to attend. Walkers are encouraged to make signs for the walk. Ideas for signs could include quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and other Black leaders.
According to Elizabeth Nix at History.com, “Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
“The Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, had established that all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” But in reality, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t instantly free any enslaved people.”
STONE BRIDGE PARK UPDATE
Kind of looks like a soccer field doesn't it? What was once a peaceful natural space is now a wide open human centric expanse cleared for a winding 6’ concrete path. The hills are mostly removed now for the lawn. A total of seven trees are being removed, two of which were dead ash trees. Construction is very close to one of the big oaks which are supposed to be protected so I'm fearful for its fate. Pagoda repair has not yet begun.
One of the reasons this is so upsetting is that this entire area was once a Ho-Chunk campsite. There were hills on either side of the ravine that used to be the home to numerous wigwam’s and a village. When colonists arrived in America they brought the great lawn with them as a way to “civilize the savages.” This is well known by urban planners and historians. And it’s exactly what we’ve done here. Any semblance of the former campsite has now been erased. The rocky shoreline that my kids and I loved skipping stones at is also gone. That was one of the last rocky beaches in the chain of lakes.
We have to put in an underground storm water basin near the street for stormwater management and that is an essential upgrade. But the parks board and city council (with the exception of me, a regular user of the park) felt like the whole park needed to be redone as well at a cost of $350K. The biggest argument was for ADA access but with no parking lot, mobility challenged are very unlikely to feel safe getting out of their cars on a busy street at an awkward intersection where speeding is a common occurrence. We had a $200K budget shortfall this year due to Covid but we still went forward and spent $350K on an optional project that the public largely spoke out against. I would have liked to seen us put those funds towards the San Damiano park. It probably could have built us a parking lot.
CAP TIMES FEATURE (BLUSH)
I was so honored to be featured in the Cap Times recently! It's always nice to be acknowledged for our accomplishments and contributions. Even though I lost the election, I will continue to mobilize people, hopefully inspire people to be at their best, and push for integrity and transparency in Monona. You can read the article here.