Monday, January 14, 2013

What You May Not Know: Week Of January 14

The Appleton City Council meets on Wednesday night for the first time in four weeks to discuss agenda items including the following:

Stormwater Abatement Plan

This week's most controversial topic is likely to be the potential approval of Phase 1 of a plan to attempt to reduce flooding on the south side of the city. The first step in the plan is installing underground storage tanks for storm water under the parking lot at Appleton East High School, and (pending approval by the Finance Committee on Wednesday) that's what the council will discuss and likely bring to a vote Wednesday night.

The problem is, though, that committing to Phase 1 of the plan basically requires the city to also commit to Phase 2, major alterations or perhaps a closing of Lions Park on the south side to make way for potential stormwater retention. There are alternatives available but they're more expensive and likely to be less effective. Closing Lions Park would likely require the city to replace those facilities with a new park...and from there things start to snowball. Furthermore, studies have not yet been done to quantify the impact of potentially losing the existing park.

Proposed Zoning Change

The owners of the Hardees at Ballard Road and Highway 41 are seeking permission to rezone their property to allow the current fast food restaurant to be torn down and replaced by a gas station/restaurant.

Recycling Container Purchase

The Municipal Services Committee voted 4-1 last week to recommend the approval of the purchase of 25,250 recycling carts at a total cost of about $1.24 million.

No Alderman Pay Raise

The Human Resources Committee voted 3-1 in favor of a 0% pay raise for members of the city council for the 2014-16 term. This would be the eighth time in nine years aldermen have received no raise, with the only exception being a 3% change in 2009.

Vosters Park Sidewalks

Finally, the Parks and Rec committee's lone action item this week is the plan to install sidewalks in Vosters Park this summer. I talked about this extensively in last week's post and did some work in an effort to see how the neighborhood felt about it, but unfortunately the majority of people who responded to me were disregarded. The committee voted unanimously to recommend sidewalk plan B, which includes a new path along Benvalley Drive to complete a ring around the park. Just four of the 18 neighbors who expressed an opinion to me on the issue were in favor of this plan.

On Sunday I met with neighbor Thomas Werth in the park to discuss the potential impact of this plan, and we estimated that as many as six large trees will have to be removed to allow the sidewalk to be installed between the wooded area in the park and Benvalley Drive.

The full council agenda is available here. Per usual, the council will meet at 7 pm or following the conclusion of the Finance Committee meeting scheduled for 6:45.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as a candidate for and a potential member of Appleton's City Council. There's a lot going on and a lot of information out there, but I'm happy to do everything I can to make these decisions and the discussions around them as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested.

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