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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Environmental Safeguards Seriously Lacking in Central Services Demolition Plan

DOA meets with lawmakers after quiet bidding process and unresponsiveness

The former Central Services Facility is being demolished for a new State archives preservation and storage building. Residents are concerned the demolition will spread toxins that exist from 100 years of industrial activity on the site.

The former Central Services Facility is being demolished for a new State archives preservation and storage building. Residents are concerned the demolition spread toxins that exist from 100 years of industrial activity on the site.

Marquette neighborhood residents are alarmed about the impending demolition of a state storage building at 202 South Thornton Avenue, the former State of Wisconsin Central Services Facility. The 100 year-old building served as a foundry, munitions plant, manufactured appliances, housed a printing press and served as a service facility for the state’s vehicle fleet.

Neighbors, environmental groups and now local, state and federal legislative officials are concerned the Department of Administration’s (DOA) current Environmental Assessment (EA) far underestimates exactly what types and the amounts of toxins such as PCBs, PCEs, PAHs and other heavy metals remain on the site or have seeped into the ground. There is further worry that the State’s plan to contain those contaminates during demolition is woefully inadequate.

In it’s place, a four-story $46.7 Million state of the art archive preservation and storage facility will be constructed on the site along the Yahara River, for the Wisconsin State Historical Society and Veterans Museum.

The project, approved in 2013, will include greenspace and Native American ceremonial grounds which are planned for the Yahara frontage. In the future, more expansion could happen to land not in the building’s footprint on the Dickinson Street side which for now will be landscaped.

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EASTSIDE! EASTSIDE!

East High football home games return to Breese Stevens Field after 41 year hiatus

Scrimmage25On a pleasant Saturday evening earlier this month the Madison East High School football team was warming up on the gleaming year-old artificial turf of Breese Stevens Field. It was a first look not only for the players, but the coaches, boosters and fans as East has not had it’s own home field since it played it’s last home game in 1974.

For Quarterback Ruben Arndt, the lines on the field and the dimensions may be the same from last year when East played at Lussier Stadium, but this year will be different because the Purgolders are coming home when they host Madison West, the last team they played in this stadium 41 years ago.

“It’s really special to be back here…for the school. I remember as a kid I’d always go to Lussier [stadium] and watch my brother. It was always fun seeing the team but it never really felt like home…because we were out in front of Lafollette.” Arndt said during a break from drills.

“This really feels like home, right here a couple blocks from the high school and it’s old, it’s dusty and it’s great.”

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First East High Football Scrimmage at Breese Stevens Field in 40 years

East High Scrimmage - Breese Stevens Field

Friday Night Lights and East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.

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Friday Night Lights and East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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Players listen to the Umpire speak about which actions might draw infractions from the officials as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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A player attempts to haul in a pass during drills as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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Friday Night Lights and East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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A view not seen by East High fans in 40 years as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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This classic walled stadium will host East High football this fall beginning August 28, 2015.
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Friday Night Lights and East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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The tunnel even gets a test run as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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The tunnel even gets a test run as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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Starting Quarterback Rueben Arndt warms with his receivers during drills as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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Datrell Thompson is on JV this year but is already turning heads with his abilities at quarterback and running back. East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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The natural grass surface, in place since the stadium was built in 1927, was replaced with synthetic sports grass to increase durability and increase utilization by athletic teams and other events including concerts like the Avett Brothers who will play a show this October.
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Datrell Thompson prepares to throw a pass during drills as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
[img src=http://willystreetblog.com/wp/wp-content/flagallery/east-high-scrimmage-breese-stevens-field/thumbs/thumbs_scrimmage9.jpg]440A new press box was built in 2011 and a new sound system installed in 2014 as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
A new press box was built in 2011 and a new sound system installed in 2014 as East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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East High School Football returns to Breese Stevens Field, absent since 1975, with a scrimmage on August 8, 2015.
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4th Year East High Football Coach Steve Erato talks to his players prior to East High School Football scrimmage at Breese Stevens Field on August 8, 2015.
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Umpire Terry King was on the field for East High in 1974 for the last football game played by East at Breese Stevens Field, which they defeated 28-21.

 

It was the fall of 1974 and Terry King had hair down to his shoulders, was 18 years old and feeling great as he walked off field at Breese Stevens after defeating West High School 28-21. However it would be the last time East High would play football games at the 4,000-seat stadium until this year when Madison West will return for the home opener on August 28th.

King was reminiscing out loud to the 2015 East High squad Saturday night (August 8) as they prepared to scrimmage for the first time in four decades. This time Terry King wore the hat of an umpire and led a group of referees that would be monitoring the practice game as a warm-up for them and the players. The team will play another scrimmage in Kenosha next week before opening the season across town against Madison Memorial.

Fourth year Coach Steve Erato is excited to be playing at the stadium, a prospect that has been in the works for a year and it gained it’s own momentum as the City of Madison, East High and the community got behind.

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Drug Raid on Jenifer Street Brings Out Police Toys

Madison Police SWAT team deployed to 900 block Tuesday afternoon

A Madison Police Assault vehicle takes a position in front of 909 Jenifer Street which was the target of a drug raid, June 16, 2015.

A Madison Police Assault vehicle takes a position in front of 909 Jenifer Street which was the target of a drug raid, June 16, 2015.

Madison Police executed a search warrant in the 900 block of Jenifer Street yesterday (June 16) just after 12:30 p.m. as part of a investigation into drug activity. Traffic was blocked off for the entire block while members of the Madison Police SWAT team moved in.

Neighbors reported seeing a large military-style vehicle painted in black with Madison Police markings park in front of the home and a public address speaker on the vehicle told the occupants that they [the police] were aware they had guns. Kendall G. Ragland, 36, was arrested  during a high risk traffic stop on south Carroll Street and charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor in relation to the investigation.

Madison Police Department says that the raid was the result of a seven month investigation which recovered more than 32 grams of heroin and more than 14 grams of cocaine as well as other evidence but so far there is no information that weapons were found; however the investigation is ongoing.

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Madison Metro Bleeps-out Beeps

City bus administrators relent to public pressure regarding noisy turn signals

No more beeps when Madison Metro bus turn signals are on.

No more beeps when Madison Metro bus turn signals are on.

Madison Metro gave a heads-up to alders today in an email on a decision to turn off the audible turn signals that have been driving neighborhood residents crazy throughout the city, especially in quiet areas late at night.

Metro had installed the system on it’s buses to increase awareness as the bus was pulling in and out of stops to reduce the chance of collisions. The decision to add the system was partly in response to a fatality several year ago when a turning bus struck a pedestrian on University Avenue.

Allison Smith, who lives near the Edgewater in the Mansion Hill neighborhood and on the #81 bus line started noticing the beeping in January. The #81 has a schedule that runs until 2:20 a.m. on weekdays and 3:20 a.m. on weekends and after living through two years of Edgewater construction she started to research the impacts of noise on health.

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906 Willy Developers May Have to Preserve Home to Win MNA and Landmarks Support

Second public meeting set for today as project bumps against neighborhood plan, historic ordinances

Developer Louis Fortis is seeking to build a four-story mixed-used building at the corner of Paterson and Willy Streets. Courtesy: Knothe-Bruce Architects

Developer Louis Fortis is seeking to build a four-story mixed-used building at the corner of Paterson and Willy Streets. Courtesy: Knothe-Bruce Architects

Another proposed mixed-used development at 906 Williamson Street is facing some opposition from the neighborhood and the City Of Madison Landmarks Commission over it’s height, low percentage of affordable housing, green space and demolition of a 4-bedroom single family home currently on the site.

Earlier this year Louis Fortis, who owns the Gateway Mall, proposed to demolish the current home and build a four-story mixed used building with 26 apartment units, underground parking, retail space on the first floor along Willy, indoor and outdoor bike parking, rooftop patio and green roof.

In the interim, Knoth-Bruce Architects has been working with Marquette Neighborhood Association to earn it’s endorsement since they feel it will be very helpful in their petition before Landmarks which says the design is okay, with somewhat minor changes, but they are leery about approving the demolition. MNA wants to see a shorter building, more affordable housing and the current home preserved.

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Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt this Sunday

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. in the center of the park

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Marquette Neighborhood residents will be holding an Easter egg hunt for children on Sunday April 5, 2015. Arrive at 9 a.m to hide the eggs with the hunt to commence at 10 a.m. Organizers also suggest attendees can bring a dish to share at the gazebo following the hunt.

Over 40 children and their families gathered last year to share food and race across the park to find plastic eggs filled with all the things kids like in an egg, various forms of candy. Organized again this year by Meghan Blake-Horst and Lynn Lee, the gathering harkens back to earlier neighborhood events that were smaller and more organic.

See the event’s facebook page for more information.

See photos from last year’s hunt below:

Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt 2014

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Participants are made to run in a circle to make sure they are properly warmed up for the hunt.
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A pre-hunt briefing was held with different age groups sent to different areas of the park.
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And they are off!
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A fair bounty secured by this young participant
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Adults were allowed to help as needed.
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This location served up a quandary for several boys. Many tried leaping, throwing twigs, but later was dislodged by an adult.
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Happiness is your friends and a basket full of plastic Easter eggs.
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This boy was fleet of foot...literally.
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The photographer kept a close eye on this egg, but rarely was an egg rescue attempted. However it was eyed often by kids as they passed by.
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Dad leads the way with his egg-tracking ears.
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One girl rests and reflects on her effort this morning.
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Unrestrained joy.
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Having found their eggs, these two girls had moved onto chatting about other things.
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Sorting their loot
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The tools of the trade. Razor, liquids, and the 21st century Easter basket, the bike helmet.
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Food always follows a successful hunt.
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Co-organizer Lynn Lee.

Is #WillyStreet ‘A Place For All People’?

Police shooting highlights shortcomings in our progressive culture

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Tony Robinson, in a picture released by his family the night of his death.

Friday was the day we all realized that our neighborhood, which over the decades has changed for good in many ways, really hasn’t changed at all. Sitting with family and friends for dinner at Take Five, we saw an urgent parade of police vehicles pass by, seven in all.

It is normal to see ambulances and fire trucks on this important artery through the Near East Side. But this was different; we knew a serious situation was occuring when so many police are the first to rush by.

A regular patron headed down the street to investigate and reported back that shots had been fired in the 1100 block of Williamson Street. His information was rushed and proved accurate on only two points: that someone had been shot and that he saw CPR being peformed on an individual before an ambulance took him away.

I say “him” because it was Tony Robinson who was killed during a scuffle with a Madison Police officer. His eventual death has displayed in very stark terms this city’s continued struggle with race, police deadly force protocol and access by our minority communities to Madison’s perennial “Best Place to Live” status.

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