Is #WillyStreet ‘A Place For All People’?

Police shooting highlights shortcomings in our progressive culture

IMG_0683.JPG

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.

Continue reading

Endorsement: Bridget Maniaci For Mayor

Former Alder has spent years preparing to be Mayor; she’s ready

Mayoral Candidate Bridget Maniaci talks Madison at the Johnson Public House.

Mayoral Candidate Bridget Maniaci talks Madison at the Johnson Public House.

The most important election for Mayor of Madison is not in April when the next Mayor is chosen but tomorrow (February 17) when the Mayor of Madison is chosen. No this is not a riddle, there are five individuals running to be the next mayor including the incumbent. Voters actually have a real choice now, in the primary, in deciding which two candidates will make it to the final round.

Aside from money infecting our politics, the other problem that is degrading our democracy is a lack of participation or even engagement by the voter. This issue is especially acute at the local level where elections have deep and immediate consequences.

We are very lucky in Madison to have this many choices for mayor and we should pay attention as all of them seem to care about the city and many agree on the issues. But only one candidate, in our opinion, will truly love this job like it needs to be loved: Bridget Maniaci.

Continue reading

Galaxie Groundbreaking Celebrates Robust Planning Process

Enthusiasm reigned at event launching long anticipated Cap East development

Key project proponents prepare to ceremoniously initiate the building of The Galaxie. (l to r) Festival Food CEO Mark Skogen, District Six Alder Marsha Rummel, Patrick Stevens, WI DNR, former District Two Alder Bridget Maniaci, Steven Cover, City of Madison Director of Planning, Community, and Economic Development, District Two Alder Ledell Zellers,  Unidentified child, City Of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Otto Gebhardt Development President Otto Gebhardt III, Architect Chris Gosch of Bark Design.

/a> Key project proponents prepare to ceremoniously initiate the building of The Galaxie. (l to r) Festival Food CEO Mark Skogen, District Six Alder Marsha Rummel, WI DNR Administrator Patrick Stevens, former District Two Alder Bridget Maniaci, City of Madison Director of Planning, Community, and Economic Development Steven Cover, District Two Alder Ledell Zellers, Unidentified child, City Of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Gebhardt Development President Otto Gebhardt III, Architect Chris Gosch of Bark Design.

In 2013, Gebhardt development won the chance to start from scratch and transform an entire downtown city block; but there were lots of requirements.

The Tenney-Lapham and Marquette neighborhoods yearned for a full-service grocery store. The City of Madison has been clamboring to jump start redevelopment and create a gleaming gateway to downtown and developers have seen great potential for the area.

Tuesday’s groundbreaking event (September 16) marked the beginning of The Galaxie development that will remake the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. The gathering was infused with a heightened energy level because many of the participants that worked on the planning of the project felt that they had finally gotten it right.

Continue reading

Galaxie Groundbreaking Set for Sept 16

55,000 square foot Festival Foods store hopes to open  by summer of 2015

The next phase of progress in the Capital East District will begin ceremonially on September 16 as city leaders and developers will break ground on the $90 million Galaxie, a 14-story 670,000 square foot mixed-use development that will transform the 800 block on the north side of East Washington Avenue.

It is almost a shame that this space will be disrupted since a lovely carpet of green grass has grown over the former Don Miller site following a soil remediation project. But it seems to be a worthwhile disruption as the new complex will address many of the goals of the City of Madison, the adjoining neighborhoods, and the growing demand for housing in the city core.

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.

We’re Quite Neighborly

Williamson-Marquette named a top place to live in the United States

Earlier this month the Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood was recognized as a Top 10 Great Neighborhood in the United States. The honor, presented by the American Planning Association, is ratification of the intense involvement by neighborhood residents both longtime and new to create a truly unique and rewarding place to live.

“Marquette has a vibrancy that is a benchmark for other neighborhoods,” said Mayor Soglin at a ceremony the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center on October 4. “It is our SoHo.”

Citing walkability, strong revitalization efforts following decades of decline, and strong community engagement, the APA‘s Larry Ward presented the award to the neighborhood and was joined by Soglin, District 6 Alder Marsha Rumel and Marquette Neighborhood Association representatives Lindsey Lee and David Mollenhoff.

“The Marquette Neighborhood has the rich legacy of a place built up before the era of the automobile. Shops, entertainment, and employment are all located within walking distance of our homes. This is the foundation on which our Great Neighborhood was built,” said Alder Marsha Rummel. “As we develop and redevelop areas of the City, we should aim to create other great neighborhoods with the same human scale and mix of uses as Marquette.”

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Marquette neighborhood, dilapitdated in some areas and bound by an aging industrial corridor, was threatened by various uneven development schemes including a freeway through the rail corridor. The MNA was formed in 1968 in part to combat these encroachments and created its first neighborhood plan in 1971.

The plan and the engagement of community members who took the risk to live and build the neighborhood to what it is today, is why the APA is recognizing what we have already known for some time: This is a great place to live.

City Officials to Inaugurate Central Park Construction

Soglin, Rummel, and Park Director to conduct kickoff ceremony today

Bulldozers have been at the site of Central Park all week as construction finally begins on Phase I of the project

Bulldozers have been at the site of Central Park all week as construction finally begins on Phase I of the project

Earth moving crews were at the corner of East Wilson and Ingersoll Streets this week prepping for the installation of the restroom building which is part of Phase I of the Central Park project. The long term goal of building a community park and greenway along the East Isthmus Rail Corridor stagnated recently due to funding; but the project is moving forward again.

City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, District 6 Alder Marsha Rummel, Madison Parks Department Director Kevin Briski, and other city officials will host a kickoff event at 2 p.m today at the site to celebrate the project finally getting underway.  Continue reading

Rail Corridor Street Closings Sent Back for ‘Do Over’

Dane County Judge says OCR did not fully explain decision

A Judge has asked the Office of the Commissioner of Rail Roads to reexamine his ruling to close crossings at Livingston and Brearly Streets.

A Judge has asked the Office of the Commissioner of Rail Roads to reexamine his ruling to close crossings at Livingston and Brearly Streets.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi has remanded the City of Madison’s appeal of the closing of two rail road crossings at Livingston and Brearly Streets. State Commissioner of Railroads Jeff Plale had ruled last year that the two crossings should close to address safety concerns. The City contended that there hadn’t been an accident in 40 years and the closures would substantially inhibit traffic flow on the Near East Side

In an email to various City officials City Attorney Steven Brist wrote that Judge Sumi asked the commissioner to re-examine his decision, and added some instructions. The commissioner is to fully explain his reasoning to increase the number of street closures to two, from the one recommended by a hearing examiner in February 2012.

Continue reading

Interview: District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci

Madison District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci. Courtesy: District2MadisonBlog

City of Madison District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci decided politics was for her after observing then Mayor Dave Cieslewicz run for re-election while serving as his press intern.

After studying journalism for a time, Maniaci switched to politics, completing internships at the State Capitol and with Mayor Cieslewicz.

While exploring journalism she worked for the Capital Times, The Daily Cardinal, and WSUM-FM. Bridget is also pretty good at sailing, serving as Vice-Commodore of the UW Hoofers when she was a student.

 

Maniaci graduated from Sun Prairie High School in 2002 and the University of Wisconsin in 2007 with a degree in Political Science and Economics. She was elected to the Madison Common Council in 2009. Outspoken at times, according to some, but she is energetic about Madison. Maniaci has a rare command of local public policy, with facts, figures, and grounded analysis often at the tip of her tongue…

 

Editor’s Note: When we talked with Ald. Maniaci, funding for ice rinks and lifeguards in the City Budget was still in doubt. The Board of Estimates restored that funding at its meeting on October 22, 2012; with Maniaci supporting an amendment to restore funding for lifeguards. The Budget still needs final approval from the Common Council, which will likely vote on it in November.

 

Budget Cuts Could Sink B.B. Clarke Swimming Platform

Quality-of-life, big city priorities clash during budget process

B. B. Clarke Beach circa 1951. An early version of the diving platform can be seen. Later version paralleled the shore and were located approximately 150 yards off shore.

As the Madison Mayor Paul Soglin prepared his budget for the coming fiscal year he asked all departments to make a five percent cut in their operational budgets. At the Parks Department they arrived at those cuts in part by eliminating and consolidating some very popular services in some parks; specifically the elimination of nine seasonal ice rinks and focusing lifeguard services at regional beaches.

In a city known for year-round recreation probably the most sacred of activities is ice skating and swimming. It is almost a cruel irony that a community whose water-borne identity is intrinsic should have to cut back on this celebrated quality-of-life benefit.  Continue reading