Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What you may not know: Week of May 27

Despite the off day on Monday, the Appleton Common Council has one of the busiest committee weeks I've experienced on tap this week. Here are some of the agenda items I'm watching:

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 5:30 pm

Bike lanes have been one of the most often and at-length discussed items during my tenure on the council, and that conversation is likely to heat up again following a resolution from three alderpersons calling for portions of five more streets to receive bike lanes in coming years. You can see all the details of specific street locations and timeframes on the Municipal Services agenda, but here's a quick synopsis:

  • Portions of Capitol Drive in 2014, the remainder in 2015.
  • Portions of Prospect Avenue in 2015.
  • Roemer Road in 2015.
  • N. Oneida Street in 2015.
  • Telulah Avenue in 2018.
All of these projects will require on-street parking to be removed from one or both sides of the street, and coincide with construction projects featuring bike lanes on other portions of the street or a nearby street. Adding bikes lanes here concurrent to other projects will help create a more cohesive bike network around the city and eliminate some of the patchwork nature of our existing routes.

Finance, Wednesday, 4:30 pm

Our ongoing review of special assessment policies in the city will continue on Wednesday afternoon at the Finance Committee. Last week we spent an hour as a council hearing a presentation on the existing policy (you can see the video from that meeting on the city's Legistar page), and this week we'll receive another presentation on possible alternatives and new practices we could consider if we do decide to make a change.

This is another key step in the process to ensure we're making an informed decision when we finally get to debate this issue. We're talking about pretty significant budgetary decisions here, so it's critical that we all understand the facts and practices in play before making any major changes.

Also at this meeting, the committee will discuss a staff recommendation that would be a setback for the efforts to build a skate park in Telulah Park. Bids for the project were opened last week and came in well more than $100,000 over budget, putting us in a position where it would be tough to find a way to accept the bid and still remain fiscally responsible. 

Our action item on Wednesday is a staff recommendation to reject the bids, with the intention that the plans will be reviewed and sent out for bids again within the next couple of months. It's tough to accept that recommendation given all the work that's gone into getting us to this point, but if all goes well this setback may only cost us a month or two.

Safety and Licensing, Thursday, 5 pm

Sticking with the skateboard theme, last week at our full council meeting I was one of three alderpersons to co-submit a resolution calling for a review of city ordinances regarding skateboarding. Our policies regarding banned locations for skateboarding and the penalties for being caught have not changed since 1992.

Over the past 20 years I think attitudes toward skateboarding have changed a bit. A hobby that used to be primarily associated with undesirable attitudes and habits has now become an activity that we're actively encouraging as a city by doing things like the planned skate park. I don't know what, if anything, we'll change as a result of this review but I think it's time to take another look at this issue and see if there are updates worth making.

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.

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