Orton Fest to Celebrate Survival

Park continues to triumph over tornados, boulevards and development

Anders Osborn during last year's Orton Park Festival.

Anders Osborn during the 2012 Orton Park Festival.

In its long history, Orton Park has had to survive many threats. In 1924 the City of Madison proposed a boulevard with a 12-foot median that would bisect the park. Proponents argued this would improve traffic flow from King Street to the Eastside following the recently opened Rutledge Street bridge across the Yahara. It seems that this route had become a very popular artery for “far” Eastsiders who wanted to avoid railroad crossings at Williamson Street and Atwood Avenue.

The opposition to that project ninety years ago echoes the same reasons why today’s residents guard the tranquility of Madison’s oldest park: its too popular with children. The festival, begun in the middle 1960s, is in its 49th year and grew out of general neighborhood organizing against various development schemes and for neighborhood strength and cohesion.

In the last days of spring, despite rabid stewardship over the years by park lovers including the Friends of Orton Park, Mother Nature also attempted to remake the land when an EF-1 tornado barreled through the Marquette neighborhood early on June 17. While some trees were lost, the park never lost face with even the fallen trees repurposed in a resourceful way.

Continue reading

MNA Stands Behind Red Caboose

Neighborhood association board votes statement of support for license appeal

MNA voted to affirm Red Caboose's importance to the community as the center appeals its license revocation.

MNA voted to affirm Red Caboose’s importance to the community as the center appeals its license revocation.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Board has voted to issue a statement of support for Red Caboose Day Care Center which is appealing last week’s revocation of its license to operate by the State of Wisconsin. The statement, introduced at last night’s meeting (July 24) by Board member Lynn Lee, is intended to affirm the institutional importance of the child care center in the neighborhood but not pass judgement on specific matters raised by the Department of Children and Families.

“The Marquette Neighborhood Association would like to affirm the special place that Red Caboose Daycare has in our neighborhood and for many in the city of Madison,” the statement begins.

Lee, who serves on the center’s board and his daughter attends the center’s after school program, felt the statement was needed because of the concern among parents over the future of the facility in light of the sudden revocation which he felt was a severe reaction.

Continue reading

Orton Park May Be Seen In Softer, Cooler Light

Reworked electrical projects for the park up for a vote at MNA Thursday

The proposed boring route for a power line to upgrade electrical service to the Orton Park  gazebo. Courtesy: MG&E

The proposed boring route for a power line to upgrade electrical service to the Orton Park gazebo. Courtesy: MG&E

Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) has significantly reworked two electrical projects it proposed last winter to improve lighting as well as new electrical service to the gazebo in Orton park. Marquette Neighborhood Association President Michael Jacob said park neighbors had objected to the original proposal and because they were not consulted at the outset.

The first project will move the utility light pole 10 feet west (towards Ingersoll Street) and replace it with an LED light that according to the utility will “cast a cooler blue light, giving truer colors compared to the yellow light cast by a high pressure sodium fixture (HPS).” The light is the only illumination in the central portion of the park. 

Continue reading

Rummel Appeals Rifken Development Approval

Sixth District Alder wants more neighborhood review of design process

The proposed six-story multi-family and commercial development at 702 Williamson. Courtesy: The Rifkin Group, LTD.

The proposed six-story multi-family and commercial development at 702 Williamson. Courtesy: The Rifkin Group, LTD.

City of Madison Alder Marsha Rummel is appealing the Plan Commission’s approval earlier this month for a conditional use permit for a development at 702-706 Williamson Street. The Rifken Group, Ltd., is proposing a six story multi-family development to replace the current one-story building.

In a letter to the Marquette Neighborhood Rummel cited her right as an alder to appeal a Plan Commission ruling within 10 days of a decision. She said the appeal will be introduced August 5 and receive a public hearing before the Madison Common Council on September 2. Rummel is concerned that the neighborhood is being cut out of the design review process.

Continue reading

Near East Side Catches Heavy Damage From Storms

Many trees from lake north to Willy felled, some homes and a business lose roof

A tree felled by wind near Rutledge and Few Streets. Courtesy: @Wongofu

A tree felled by wind near Rutledge and Few Streets. Courtesy: @Wongofu

Strong thunderstorms and possibly a tornado visited Madison just after midnight Tuesday. However as daylight reigned, the destruction that befell our deciduous friends that provide our summer shade has become clear. From B.B. Clarke Beach to Olbrich Park the parallel streets closest to Lake Monona saw some of the grandest and stoutest trees snapped or uprooted, some falling on cars or portions of houses.

Caffeinated Politics blogger Gregory Humphrey has an excellent photo series of the damage in neighborhood after taking a walking tour at sunrise. He observed the canoe rental racks at B.B. Clarke beach plundered by the winds and many of the trees along the shore had fallen.

The heaviest damage was reported in Verona and a small pocket on the east end of Schroeder road near the Vitense Golfland. In those areas so far 23 homes have been damaged; some missing roofs. Madison Metro has busses in Verona and the West Side of Madison providing temporary shelter to some displaced residents.

high winds which were preceded with a roar like I have not heard before–five trees down and close to 15 canoes and such water craft on rental slots are all gone as well as the rental units.” Humphrey said in a posting.

Madtown Printing on south Baldwin also lost its roof. From both media and twitter postings, especially from @wongofu, numerous downed trees and power lines can be found from B.B. Clarke to Oak Ridge Avenue which is the entire residential stretch of northern Lake Monona.

Twitter user @Wongofu reported this  backyard trampoline ended up in Yahara Place Park.

Twitter user @Wongofu reported this backyard trampoline ended up in Yahara Place Park.

Marquette Neighborhood Association President Michael Jacob who is also paramedic with the Blooming Grove Fire Department reported on the MNA listserv before sunrise that city crews were already making good progress clearing the streets.

“…the amount of tree and other natural debris strewn across our streets was nothing short of stunning. Much was reasonably tucked to the side by the time I got back,” Jacob said.

Social media reports, including from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, showed wind damage in the neighborhood including a traffic light at East Washington Avenue and Ingersoll and a large tree that dragged down power lines in the 1300 block of Jenifer Street behind the Willy Street Co-op.

3rd Annual MNA Community Garage Sale Saturday

10270806_10152143183143507_2022614522738275152_nThe Marquette Neighborhood Association’s 3rd Annual Neighborhood-wide Garage sale is Saturday June 14, 2014. On person’s junk is another person’s treasure and it seems there will be plenty of opportunities to prove this familiar saying. Over 50 addresses in the Marquette neighborhood and spilling over slightly into the Atwood Neighborhood are registered.

MNA will provide printed maps of the sale locations and those with leftover items, the St. Vincent dePaul store will stop by at the end of the sale (approximately 3 p.m.)

This community event is sponsored by the Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA). If you are not a member please consider joining. MNA will have a table the Waterfront Festival (June 7th and 8th) and Orton Park Festival (August 21st – 24th) – membership is only $5.

More information is at the event facebook page

MNA Opposes 702 Williamson Development

Letter to Landmarks says height does not conform to BUILD II plan

The proposed six-story multi-family and commercial development at 702 Williamson. Courtesy: The Rifkin Group, LTD.

The proposed six-story multi-family and commercial development at 702 Williamson. Courtesy: The Rifkin Group, LTD.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association is opposing the height of a proposed commercial and multi-family development at 702-706 Williamson Street. The Rifkin Group, Ltd., which owns the current structure on the property is seeking permission from the City of Madison to demolish the building and build a six story one in its place with commercial use on the first floor and sixty (60) apartments above.

As with its central objection to the height of the 722 Williamson project, MNA said in a letter to the Landmarks Commission that the massing of the proposed buildings on this block do not fit within the BUILD II plan created by the neighborhood and threatens to block out residential views of the capitol building.

The proposed demolition and development is on the agenda for this afternoon’s (May 5) City of Madison Landmarks Commission meeting.

Continue reading

These Kids Are All Right

East High cultural series hopes to encourage more involvement by neighborhood

The Accidentals play Cargo Coffee on March 21, 2014.

The Accidentals play Cargo Coffee on March 21, 2014.

Jazz music wafting through a coffee shop on a Friday evening is not uncommon, nor impressive unless you were at Cargo Coffee Friday night (March 21). A spoken word performance usually garners an echoey smattering of applause, and maybe a spirited “Woo!” from a patron, but not this night.

It could have been their ages, but more likely it was the polished, inspired, and passionate performances of Madison East High Students that brought enthusiastic applause from supporters and customers during a fundraiser to help make healthy snacks available to students at East.

Hungry students is not just an East high problem but is leading some to raise a larger question: Are Near East Side neighborhoods too detached from East High students? Friday’s event at Cargo Coffee shows there is much young talent to appreciate and support.

Continue reading

Commercial Development on Willy May Dominate MNA Board Meeting

Developments at each end of street highlight contrasting neighborhood priorities

1380 Williamson Street is currently vacant, but 16 Bar Spoons wants to turn the residence into a craft cocktail lounge

1380 Williamson Street is currently vacant, but 16 Bar Spoons wants to turn the residence into a craft cocktail lounge

While every Marquette Neighborhood Association Board meeting is important, tonight’s (March 20) meeting may further illuminate the difference in preferences for development on Williamson Street. With the neighborhood already at loggerheads over too much residential development at 722 and now 706 Williamson; a proposal to convert an existing residence into a craft cocktail lounge did not earn MNA’s  Preservation & Development Committee recommendation at Wednesday’s meeting.

Josh Swentzel (Star Liquor, Grampa’s Pizzeria, Tip Top Tavern), Hastings Cameron (Forequarter, Underground Food Collective) and Gilbert Altschul (Grampa’s Pizzeria, Mickey’s Tavern) have formed 16 Bar Spoons, LLC. to lease the property at 1380 Williamson which is currently owed by Ben Altschul (Gilbert’s brother) and which Swentzel says is currently vacant. The yet to be named lounge divided the committee since the location would turn a two-unit residence into a commercial establishment.

Continue reading

Articulating Compromise As Clock Ticks

722 developers adjust proposal but neighborhood reaction is still mixed

A revised depiction of 722 Williamson with five stories on Williamson, and seven and nine-story towers at the rear. Courtesy: BDG

A revised depiction of 722 Williamson with five stories on Williamson, and seven and nine-story towers at the rear. Courtesy: BDG

Baldwin Development Group (BDG) is determined to build a mixed-use development at 722 Williamson that will honor the Marquette neighborhood planning guidelines and also serve their own commercial interests. However, after Wednesday’s (October 23) meeting with the neighborhood where they presented alternate designs, the way forward is becoming murkier and time is running out.

BDG has met four times with a special Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) subcommittee to tweak the design so that it will fit within the guidelines of the Williamson BUILD Plan II that was adopted in 2004. The chief issue is the height of the project, which currently is proposed at 10 stories, giving some pause while others say this is the best kind of infill development for an underutilized space.

Continue reading