The election to select a new alderperson to represent District 1 is this Tuesday, August 20. If you live in District 1 (here's a map), your polling place is First United Methodist Church on Franklin Street. Take a moment to learn about the candidates (Tim Trauger and Tanya Rabec), then head out and vote.
After that, the Appleton Common Council meets on Wednesday night, and there are three issues on the table that have captured my attention:
Community Development Block Grants
If you read Saturday's Post-Crescent, you know that I received a "thumbs up" for recent work regarding block grants, which are federal dollars given to the city for projects targeted to improve the lives of low- to moderate income persons. Two weeks ago at council I sponsored an amendment that struck a parking lot project at Einstein Park (with a price tag of $37,133) from this year's list of recipients.
Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. Last Monday the Community and Economic Development Committee voted to put the Einstein project back on the list. On Wednesday the issue will come before the full council again.
I've written about this on multiple occasions now so I won't belabor the point, but I will say this: We need to find a better opportunity to help people with this money. I'm not convinced that parking lot restructuring meets any of the stated goals of CDBG program, so I plan to continue to demand an alternative.
The proposed exhibition center downtown will continue to be a top story this week as council debates a proposal to hire a consultant to help manage the city's interests in the project. Alderman Jeff Jirschele's resolution calls for the city to spend around $25,000 to bring in someone with experience in the industry to evaluate the situation and potentially work out a final deal.
The Exhibition Center has been a controversial topic with the council and the city, and for good reason. We need only look at the Performing Arts Center to see how much of an impact a great downtown attraction can have on the surrounding area. However, the city's role in this project is significant and comes with an expense that is more than many people will be comfortable with.
I still need to hear more from both sides on this issue at this point. I'm an Exhibition Center skeptic, but I can see the point in bringing in a consultant to make sure we've got all our bases covered if we're still going to pursue it at all.
Last week I wrote about a proposal to install bike lanes on the east end of Glendale Avenue, through the industrial park. By my request, that item was held at the Municipal Services Committee and will come up at their next scheduled meeting on August 27.
That committee did recommend two road reconstruction plans for approval, though, and both will come before the full council on Wednesday. The impacted streets are:
- Badger Avenue between Wisconsin and Prospect, where the new reconstruction would include 12.5 foot travel lanes, two bike lanes and the removal of parking along the south and west side of the street.
- Meade Street in the blocks on both sides of Northland Avenue, where a bike lane would also be installed.
Both of these projects make sense but have a notable drawback. On Badger, a fair number of residents will lose parking in front of their homes and one of the areas impacted will be around West High School, where parking can already be an issue at times. On Meade, we're talking about a relatively small stretch of bike lane between two areas that currently don't have one and aren't slated to get one in the short term.
The problem with developing a bike lane network slowly over time is that there are times where lanes are constructed that don't make complete sense by themselves, but will look better in the long run. I think both of these projects fit that criteria.