Chances Dwindling To Influence Jenifer Street Reconstruction

Neighborhood seeks to change scope of construction with recommendations

Jeni10The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) will consider tonight (7:00 p.m.) several proposals deal with the impact of the Jenifer Street Reconstruction project that will begin this summer. The MNA Traffic Committee met Monday and debated a range of issues, some related to the construction, others regarding the legacy the construction will leave behind.

During construction, bus service will have to be rerouted. Currently as many as four routes traverse Jenifer Street and Madison Metro’s latest proposal has the bus routes moved to East Washington Avenue. The general sentiment has been that this solution is easiest for Metro and rather inconvenient for neighborhood residents who utilize this service heavily.

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Saving Trees From the Ground Up

Proposal would allow higher tree heights on terraces currently limited by powerlines

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The Guyot house (right) has had this power pedestal outside their home since they undergrounded their power lateral in the late 1970s. MNA is considering a proposal to underground the primary power lines to maintain the high tree canopy which is threatened by MG&E’s tree planting policy.

The once-delayed major reconstruction or a four block stretch of Jenifer Street is moving forward again but residents are still working to blunt the impact of what may be stark changes to the look and function of the street.

The most recent initiative from neighbors is to advocate for the undergrounding of the primary power lines to help maintain the current tree canopy. The fabled canopy is under a dual threat from forced removal of trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer and any replacement trees being of a species that grows no higher than below the current power lines.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Board (MNA) will vote this week via email to forward a recommendation to the City of Madison to include partial undergrounding of the primary power lines to help preserve the tree canopy. The initiative grew out of a series of meetings on the Jenifer reconstruction that have been held in the past months by MNA.

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PCBs Still Present Along Bike Path Next to Kipp

Environmental and Safety Coordinator Alina Satkoski notified Atwood area residents today (January 4) that the last excavation of soils did not remove all of the PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyl) that were found  last year along the Capital City Trail bike Path between Madison-Kipp and the Goodman Center.

Satkoski wrote that a second excavation will occur this week and continue through the next to remove more soil in a plan she says was approved by the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The bike path will remain open during the excavation.

Neighbors have kept a close eye on Kipp due to several ongoing issues from historical contamination of area soils from the industrial business operations over the decades. In the past the company has had to excavate topsoil from several properties that abut the plant due to contamination.

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The Fires of Renewal

Winter Solstice celebration at Olbrich only missing pretty snow cover

The twice annual Solstice bonfire at Olbrich Park. This celebrated the Winter Solsice. December 22, 2015.

The Winter Solstice bonfire, part of a twice annual Solstice celebration held at Olbrich Park on December 22, 2015.

The Solstice is one of the more accessible and life affirming holidays celebrated in Madison and it occurs twice a year! Centered around the astronomical cycles of the sun and the earth, the Solstice is a recognition and reaffirmation of our connection to Mother Earth.

The history of the Solstice reminds us that it is not a single deity or a collection of them that truly drives our existence; it is the natural rhythms of the earth that shaped humanity over time. This recognition is very popular in Madison with many Solstice celebrations held around the city.

Our northern city endures the ravages of winter and the tradition of a bonfire is attractive to our residents as, like in pre-Christian times, it signifies the return of heat and light from the sun after it has spent six months retreating from us.

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Olds Building May Become Concrete Lofts

McGrath Property Group proposes lofts and a new 5-story building along bike path

McGrathOverhead_CWThe McGrath Property Group is trying where The Baldwin Group has failed, to redevelop on the north side of the 700 block of Willy Street. In a letter sent to District 6 Alder Marsha Rummel, McGRath Principal Lance McGrath said that his company has accepted an offer to purchase 714-722 Williamson Street which includes the Morris Paper/Olds Seed building and the adjacent parking lot.

McGrath plans to turn the Olds building into 40-50 “Concrete Lofts” featuring 11-foot ceilings, exposed duct work and brick walls along with large windows; all the features which McGrath says will be unique to Madison. The first floor will likely feature commercial/retail use and they plan to add one or two levels to the building in pursuit of the loft concept.

In addition conversion of the current structure, McGrath proposes to build a five-story building running east-west abutting the Capital City Trail bike path on the north side of the current parking lot. This building will feature 80-90 units with parking at the ground floor and one level underground.

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Joint Neighborhood Advisory Committee Formed to Press City and Developer on Marling Site

MNA & SASYNA want a say as developer submits formal plans to City

A view of the mixed-used development proposed for the Marling site at 1801 E. Washington Avenue.

A view of the mixed-used development proposed for the Marling site at 1801 E. Washington Avenue.

Talk of redeveloping the Marling Lumber site has existed for over a year, but has found new momentum after a public meeting in September where developers, Campbell Capital Group, LLC., presented their plan to redevelop the site featuring a largely residential mixed-use development.

Late last month Campbell Capital submitted their plan to the City of Madison to build a 230 unit apartment complex with 20,000 square feet of commercial space, mostly on East Washington Avenue. In a Letter of Intent to the City, CCG Founder Micheal J. Campbell proposed the two to four story interconnected buildings would blend in with the neighborhood by presenting welcoming features both along East Washington and the Yahara River.

“A public plaza along the Yahara River connects and integrates the Project and its residents with the surrounding neighborhood. This sense of community, and interaction at the street level, is further enhanced by the exterior entrances to some of the residential units along East Main Street,” Campbell wrote.

One hundred and fifty of the 230 units will be 1-bedroom, 78 are 2-bed, and three will be 3-bed with the average square footage of each unit adding up to 811 square feet. There  will also be three courtyards, an outdoor pool, interior structured parking with 334 spaces and 265 spaces for bicycles.

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Making the Marquette Neighborhood Better Than You Found It

If you like it here, this is how you can/should help: JOIN MNA

The MNA Board during a meeting in March 2014.

The MNA Board during a meeting in March 2014.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) has always been a very active organization but the need for motivated members and leaders is a constant. Our neighborhood, located in the heart of the state capital, is host to many constituencies and their agendas can have stark impacts.

For example, the effects of the demolition of a long-standing industrial building have yet to be fully enumerated and the neighborhood is still trying to get answers from the state.

Additionally, the neighborhood is grappling with development and how to interpret the detailed neighborhood planning that was undertaken only a few years ago. Wounds are still fresh from the shooting of Tony Robinson and the response to a brutal sexual assault on the bike path is just beginning.

The MNA was also instrumental in thwarting an ill-conceived reconstruction of Jenifer Street that would have permanently changed the look and feel of this idyllic yet key transportation artery minor.

If you live here it’s likely that you love the festivals, which are the top four neighborhood events in the city. Our streets, homes and parks makes for destination living. But it took four decades of effort to make it this way and keep it so.

Your neighborhood needs to hear from you through words and engagement.

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DOA Hubris Apparent After Refusing to Hold Public Meeting Over Demolition

State agency says online FAQ sufficient vehicle for communicating with neighborhood over project

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The demolition of the State of Wisconsin’s now closed Central Services Facility along the Yahara River to make way for a new State archives building is proceeding despite deep community concerns over that process and a lack of communication from the Department of Administration (DOA), which is in charge of the project.

The DOA had been holding community members and state legislators at arms length all summer over concerns about harmful chemicals and materials at the 100 year-old industrial site and what might be released during the demolition.

Despite a productive meeting two weeks ago between the DOA and area legislators Senator Fred Risser and Representative Chris Taylor, the State is refusing to hold a community meeting to answer resident’s questions about the project. Instead, DOA posted an FAQ on it’s website, claiming it provides sufficient information and thus precludes the need for a public meeting.

“It’s too bad they are not taking the community’s input into account, no one is saying to shut the project down, but we want to make sure this project is safe and that this project doesn’t endanger our environment and our public health, ” Taylor told Willy Street blog.  “And they’re just not giving the community an opportunity to hear from the project manager and the contractor that they are doing a lot of things right.

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The Best Fair in Years

Weather part of great music booking and mix of vendors and events

The sun and clear skies were two of the stars of the 2015 Willy Street Fair.

The sun and clear skies were two of the stars of the 2015 Willy Street Fair.

Every Willy Street Fair seems like the best, but this one felt extra special. After monsoonal rains pelted southern Wisconsin right up until the early morning hours of Saturday the sky was flawless for the next forty hours.

The weather brought out the crowds and fair organizers Common Wealth Development and Wil-Mar Center presented a smartly programmed event with each music stage featuring great acts without an overloaded schedule.

After high energy world music all afternoon on the Main Stage Saturday, the partnership with the Madison World Music Festival paid off with the Ester Rada, the day’s final performance. Her soaring vocals and funky backing band delighted the crowd which filled Plan B’s parking lot.

At the same time, magic was happening on Brearly Street as Colombian EDM duo Mitu made their Midwestern Debut with style providing transfixing beats that had the crowd pulsating to their music featuring mixers and live percussion.

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Willy Street Fair is Perfect End of Summer Ritual

Dry temperate weather on tap for final festival of the season

The Willy Street Fair is this weekend, September 19-20 2015.

The Willy Street Fair is this weekend, September 19-20 2015.

It has been a fantastic summer for neighborhood celebrations in Willyland. Waterfront, La Fête de Marquette, Orton were solid as ever along with some sophomores like Yum Yum Fest and Central Park Sessions. Creating addition buzz was Africa Fest and the opening of the new Goodman Skate Park in Central Park.

Our new park on Wilson street is really coming into it’s own, but it’s appropriate to bring the fun back to Willy Street for one last weekend of summer fun, music, food and celebration of our great neighborhood.

We have had some challenges this year too. The death of Tony Robinson only a half-block from where this year’s fair will take place has highlighted the work both police our city have to do to be more inclusive to our minority communities. Yes even the open arms of the Marquette neighborhood still has some things to learn.

Our funky neighborhood is also dealing with other crime such as the terrible sexual assault last weekend on the Capitol City Trail bike path and questions of how development should proceed along this street that still has many residential buildings.

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