This week I'll update you on five topics I discussed two weeks ago, as four of them will come before the full council on Wednesday night:
Community Development Block Grants
Two weeks ago the Community and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously to recommend distributing $124,900 in federal block grant money to the following organizations:
- Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity will receive $33,600 (requested $60,000).
- Harbor House will receive $19,800 (requested $25,000).
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will receive $16,600 (requested $28,000).
- Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities will receive $16,300 (requested $45,800).
- Emergency Shelter of the Fox Valley will receive $15,000 (requested $15,000).
- STEP Industries will receive $13,600 (requested $37,000).
- Fox Valley Warming Shelter will receive $10,000 (requested $10,000).
- Compassionate Home Health Care will receive no money (requested $50,000).
That was also the recommendation of a six-member advisory board which included two members of the committee. Barring a major change in direction, I do not anticipate any changes being made to those award amounts.
Decorative lighting on the Skyline (Oneida St) bridge
The Municipal Services Committee elected to hold this item instead of making a recommendation to the full council. It will come before the committee again when they next meet on February 11.
After some debate, the Municipal Services Committee recommended that the city solicit quotes for four options for the city's new smaller recycle bins, including one 48-gallon bin and three 64 or 65 gallon options. Assuming the council approves that recommendation, the next step will be for the committee to receive those quotes and recommend a final selection. If you'd like to get on the waiting list to receive a smaller cart, call the department of Public Works at (920) 832-6474 and they can help you.
One of last week's surprisingly controversial topics was a proposed pilot project that calls for a bike corral to be installed in front of Harmony Cafe on College Avenue from April-October of this year. I've heard concerns raised about the need and location, and the lost revenue from giving up a metered parking spot on College Avenue.
All told, though, doing a pilot project is the right way to evaluate a proposal like this. Right now we have concerns and questions, but being able to install this for six months and see how it works will put us in a better position to evaluate a permanent plan. The loss of parking revenue is not insignificant, but the hope is that people who cannot park immediately in front of Harmony Cafe will simply use another city parking spot.
Dogs in Parks
Finally, two weeks ago the Parks and Rec Committee voted 3-2 to approve an amendment to the amended park rules that would delay allowing dogs in parks until May of 2015. I proposed that amendment to give our Parks Department time to consider and potentially install added infrastructure like bag dispensers and to ensure that we'll be taking every possible step to do this well if we decide to allow dogs in parks.
Wednesday, finally, this issue comes before the council for a final vote. I've written extensively about this matter in the six months it's been in front of the committee but I think we've finally exhausted all the conversations that we need to have on it. We've heard from multiple departments, we've spoken to other cities, we've taken steps internally to prepare and now it's finally time. On Wednesday I hope we'll approve this matter and move on.
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.