News from Patrick Heck, Spring Newsletter 2020

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Hello Tenney Lapham neighbors. I hope that by the time you read this, the threat of late season snow has dissipated and that temperatures are hinting at spring’s arrival.

With climate change it seems as if we are often experiencing winter temperatures warm enough to cause icy rain rather than snow. Warmer temperatures also contribute to icy sidewalks and roads after the sun goes down and the ground is still frozen, so please try to be cautious whether you are walking, biking, or driving.

It has been difficult to keep the snow and ice off sidewalks with so many melt/freeze cycles. The city provides sand for residents in the form of a big pile in the Tenney Beach parking lot off Sherman Avenue, so grab a bucketful when you can and spread it on your sidewalks as needed. Using sand is much better for our lakes than using salt, but if you must use salt, please do not overapply.

If you do encounter sidewalks that are chronically not cleared or icy, you can use Report-A-Problem:

Report-A-Problem can also be used for many other issues from noise complaints to refuse collection issues and from unkempt property to inoperative traffi c lights. When a concern is related to a neighbor’s behavior or property, I recommend first chatting with neighbors whenever possible rather than relying on city enforcement mechanisms.

This winter I’ve heard from quite a few residents about the sometimes-poor clearing of sidewalks on city properties. Since I walk or bike most every day throughout Tenney-Lapham, I’ve wondered about this too. The Parks Division tells me that when there is snow to clear on public property, including park sidewalks, several different agencies are responsible; it is all hands on deck and a group eff ort. Despite everyone pitching in, there isn’t always enough staff to get to all properties in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the city can’t easily hire extra people to focus on snow removal because they would have little to do when it isn’t snowy. The city budget situation also dictates that any new hires or even more contractors would likely have to come at the expense of other city projects or eff orts. Adding staff - ing is a challenge. Regardless, I hope that the city can do a better job around parks and other public spaces.

Change Expected to Allow OnLeash Dogs in Most Parks

Canine Population Boom
Many parts of Madison, including Tenney-Lapham, have seen large increases in their dog populations. I’m not a dog owner, but I love my dog friends and do appreciate the need for pets of all types to have access to healthful environments and appropriate exercise opportunities. On the other hand, I also understand that some dogs can be unpredictable and that a minority of dog owners do not keep their dogs in check; do not keep their dogs away from those who may have a legitimate fear of dogs, and some are so rude as to not clean up their dog’s waste.

Current Parks Policies

For years Madison has not allowed dogs in most city parks, other than in a few parks, such as James Madison Park, which have been part of a pilot program that has allowed dogs on leash and only on park sidewalks and trails. Generally, the pilot was judged a success. It, however, has become clear that some dog owners in all parks either did not know of the current policies or simply ignored them.

City Process for Developing New Policies

During 2019, the Parks Division and the Board of Parks Commissioners held a series of public meetings and conducted a resident survey as they examined city policies related to dogs in city parks. Many cities across the US have loosened restrictions on dogs in public parks, so the eff ort also examined best practices in other cities while taking input from residents about various scenarios for increasing access for dogs. Generally, residents supported loosening restrictions for parks, but there was a substantial minority who were opposed, so the Board of Park Commissioners looked for common ground.

New Policies for Parks

It is likely that by the time you read this, Common Council will have approved a new ordinance and associated policies that were endorsed by the Park Commissioners. The changes will allow on leash dogs in most city parks. Under the new policies, dogs will not be allowed on or near playgrounds, athletic fields when activities are occurring, conservation parks, and in several other locations/circumstances. The city’s eight off -leash dog parks, none of which are in District 2, will remain off -leash.

At this time, it is expected that the only totally dog-free park in District 2 will be Period Garden Park, but per the proposed new ordinance and policies, the list of dog-free parks can be altered in the future with the consent of the Parks Superintendent and the Parks Commissioners. Future changes to the dog-free park list do not have to be approved by Common Council. Note that B.B. Clark and Morrison Parks on Lake Monona will be the nearest dog-free parks of any substantial size.

Additional District 2 dog-free park areas include Breese Stevens Field and the beaches at both Tenney Park and James Madison Park. It may be that TLNA and other stakeholders will come together in the near future to assess these hanges, particularly with regard to Reynolds Park. My current thought is to see how things go once the ordinances and policies are enacted before considering changes. Note that the Parks Division has designed a public education campaign and an accompanying boost in education and enforcement efforts once the policies go into effect, so you should be hearing more.

Homicide on N. Blair Street

As of this writing, the Madison Police have not released additional information about the Feb. 8 homicide that occurred in an apartment at the corner of E. Dayton and N. Blair. Central District Captain Kelly Donahue assures me that they believe the incident was not random and that MPD believes there was and is no danger to the public. I recognize that loss of life was not just terribly sad, but also quite concerning. As you can imagine, it is not unusual for the police to keep some details of incidents and investigations quiet while they pursue leads. I hope we hear more soon.

City Grants Support Local Businesses

The Common Council recently approved funding for a renovation project that is being undertaken at 824 E. Johnson Street. The funding will support exterior renovations at what will be the new location of longtime neighborhood coffee shop and gathering place Johnson Public House. The city’s Facade Improvement Grant Program helps small businesses renovate the facades of existing buildings thereby reusing existing structures and allowing improvements that would otherwise be difficult for small businesses to afford. The Baldwin Street Grille at 1304 E. Washington Avenue was also awarded a Facade Improvement Grant last fall for the upcoming renovation of their building exterior.

Reynolds Park Updates

During March, a contractor is expected to begin installing new lighting on the top of the Reynolds Park water reservoir. Four 25-foot tall security light poles will be installed. The lights will primarily facilitate bike polo during the times of the year when sunsets occur earlier. The lights are not expected to be bright enough or tall enough for tennis. As mentioned in the winter TLNA newsletter, the lights will be on only when the courts are in use and will be off by 10pm at the latest.

In April or early May, the Board of Park Commissioners and Common Council are expected to enact a permanent ban on alcohol consumption in Reynolds Park. The ban enactment date is to-be-determined due to the scheduling logistics of getting the ban through both bodies. If behavior problems such as those of last summer start to crop up, the Parks Division is willing to enact another temporary alcohol ban until the permanent ban is in place.

Salvation Army Redevelopment Update

According the Salvation Army Dane County, it is likely that the redevelopment of their property in the 600 blocks of E. Washington and E. Mifflin will not move forward until the spring of 2021. The Salvation Army is awaiting the annual spring announcement from WHEDA that reveals which applicants will be awarded Section 42 tax credits. If their application is successful, the affordable housing apartment building along E. Miffl in would be partially funded by those tax credits. The Salvation Army is also in the midst of a multimillion-dollar fundraising effort for the project.

Assuming that the redevelopment will not occur until 2021, the current shelter operations will likely continue into 2021. I’ve met with the Salvation Army several times over the winter to discuss addressing both issues for the current confi guration and for when the new facilities are built. There will be a community meeting of all stakeholders later this spring when the Salvation Army will discuss what they are doing to alleviate current concerns, incidents and impacts that occur during warmer weather, and issues that are anticipated once the new facilities are built. I remain hopeful that a coalition of the City, neighbors, businesses, non-profits, other service providers, and the Salvation Army can work together to design and implement solutions.

Valor Update: Good Vibrations?

According to Gorman and Company, the developer of Valor at the site of the old Messner buildings in the 1300 block of E. Washington, construction should be underway by the time you read this. Beginning in late March or early April, they will be putting in stone columns which will involve vibrating stone into the ground. Gorman indicates that it’s not quite as loud as pile driving, but there will be noise. It will take about 30 days to complete that aspect of the construction. The Valor will provide long-awaited aff ordable housing and services for veteran-led families.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about our neighborhood, the district, or the city. While I may not be able to answer all questions, I can certainly point you to the right city resource.

Patrick Heck

Posted by Patrick Heck
Member of the Madison Common Council, representing District 2.


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