Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What you may not know: Week of March 24

It's a relatively light committee week for the Appleton Common Council, with three cancelled meetings on Monday and another on Wednesday. There are still a few items worth watching, though. Here's what's on my radar:

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 5:30 pm

Last week at our full council meeting the issue of Fremont Street bike lanes was referred back to committee, and a vote to block that refer-back failed by one vote. So on Tuesday the committee will again hear arguments for and against the installation of bike lanes on this street, which would require the removal of some on-street parking.

Last week I posted a list of frequently-asked questions regarding bike lanes, and I think many of the ongoing concerns on this issue are addressed there. With that said, we'll get another opportunity to hear spirited debate on this issue on Tuesday.

Finance, Wednesday, 4:30 pm

Part of our annual budgeting process is a review of money budgeted but not spent in the previous year for a variety of reasons. Causes of this issue include projects expected to happen last year that weren't completed, salary dollars budgeted for positions that were vacant for some or all of the year, items that came in under budget and the like. On Wednesday the Finance Committee will consider several "carryover" requests that would allow a portion of 2013's unspent dollars to be used on projects this year.

The proposals the committee will consider are divided into two groups: The first is dollars budgeted for projects that were not completed in 2013 but will be completed in 2014 with the carryover funds. The second group is called "special considerations," and contains extra tasks that could be funded with remaining unspent dollars.

The large ticket items in that second group include:

  • $150,000 for storm sewer relocation and reconstruction as part of Lawrence's planned upgrades to the Banta Bowl.
  • Three items worth a combined $99,000 for replacement of computers, computer hardware, software and phones.
  • $36,500 for the installation of indented parking on the 900 and 1000 blocks of Mason Street to replace some parking removed when bike lanes were installed last year.

Safety and Licensing, Thursday, 5 pm

UPDATE: This meeting has been postponed, and the action items will be discussed in a special meeting before council on April 2.

Two weeks ago the Safety and Licensing Committee received and voted to unanimously approve an application from Appleton Downtown, Incorporated to host a weekly Wednesday farmers market this summer on the grassy area behind the city center where the apartment building was torn down last year. However, at council last Wednesday the issue was referred back and the committee will discuss it again on Thursday.

Last week I heard a concern that holding a market may tear up the grass in this area, which was just planted last year. At the same time, the market could be more visible if held in the new Houdini Plaza.

I am strongly in favor of providing more opportunities for people to get local food here in the city, so I'll support this farm market both as an alderman and a customer regardless of where it ends up being located. However, I do think there's an interesting conversation to be had about ideal locations for it.

You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

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.