Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What you may not know: Week of September 30

The first Wednesday in October means the first full meeting of Appleton's Common Council. Here are some items we'll discuss at 7 pm Wednesday night:

Block Grants

The first two items in this week's post are both updates on issues we talked about last week. First, last Monday the Community and Economic Development Committee debated several possibilities for $37,133 in leftover Community Development Block Grant funds. CDBG is a program designed to help low-to-moderate income populations in our community.

After considering five requests for funding, the committee elected to divide the money as follows:

  • $10,000 for Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs
  • $10,000 for the Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley
  • $17,133 for Sustainable Fox Valley for a program to improve the playground at Columbus Elementary School.
The remaining requests came from Compassionate Home Health Care, Inc. and the city's Parks and Rec department. All five of these causes represent great opportunities to help our community, and I'm excited for the opportunity to find great ways to use this money to benefit low-to-moderate income people.

Stormwater projects

The Utilities Committee voted unanimously last week to approve a "dry pond" project in the northwest corner of the city that will greatly reduce flooding during major storm events in the W. Wisconsin Avenue neighborhood on the city's northwest side. 

This proposal is the result of years of study, much of which predates my time on the council. We've considered well more than a dozen options to reduce flooding in this area and arrived at alternative 10C, which would call for a pair of dry ponds to be constructed: One on currently vacant land north of the city limits in Grand Chute and one along Birchwood Avenue on the city's west edge, which would require the purchase and demolition of four homes.

The proposal we're recommending for approval (I'm on the Utilities Committee that recommended it) is expensive, with a total cost expected to exceed $13 million. However, it also represents both the greatest reduction of flooding among the 16 possibilities considered and the most efficient reduction of flooding (dollars per foot of flood reduction).

The decision to spend this money and to demolish homes is never made lightly, but in this case I think it's the right thing to do to reduce the risk of flooding in a neighborhood that has experienced major issues twice in the last decade.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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