Monday, May 5, 2014

What you may not know: Week of May 5

After a week off (on months with five Wednesdays, there typically aren't council meetings scheduled during the fifth week), the Appleton Common Council returns to action with a full council meeting on Wednesday night. It's likely to be a relatively quiet meeting, but here are a couple of items I'll be watching:

Car shows in parking ramps

Two weeks ago the Municipal Services Committee voted 2-2* to recommend denial of a request from two residents to make an exception to the city's Parking Ramp Usage Policy to allow a car show to be held on the top three levels of the city's Green Parking Ramp. The Green ramp, if you're not familiar, is the one located immediately east of the Performing Arts Center.

The residents requesting this exception have come to us on previous occasions to explain their desire to hold an event in this location. There are some challenges involved in allowing people to gather in the ramp, most notably the somewhat difficult access for emergency vehicles and the lack of restrooms in this space. The applicants attempted to address these concerns at the Municipal Services meeting, noting that other nearby businesses have volunteered to allow their restrooms to be used and the elevator would still be available for emergency services.

There is also some precedent for doing this in other cities. Follow this link for one example, a Volkswagen event in Oshkosh.

I plan to support this request. I recognize that allowing new events and new types of events does present a risk, but I think the city's potential exposure is somewhat limited here. Furthermore, I think this represents another great opportunity to bring more people to our downtown for a fun event.

* - One of the five committee members was excused from the meeting, making an evenly-split vote possible. In cases like this where a majority of members do not vote to approve a request, it's listed as a recommendation to deny.

Scheig Learning Center and Appleton Memorial Park Arboretum and Gardens

Two weeks ago the Parks and Recreation Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of a draft of a rental and fee policy for the area formerly known as the Gardens of the Fox Cities at Memorial Park. The city resumed control of this facility and the surrounding gardens this spring when the group that had been running it elected to cease operations.

Over the last few months we've received a lot of community input and heard a lot of concern about the future of this popular city feature. This rental policy represents a big step forward in our efforts to reopen this space for public use, and may actually allow a great number of people to use it: Our rental fees are significantly lower than what had become the going rate for this space, which should open it up for more segments of the community to have an opportunity to host events here.

Assuming this recommendation passes council on Wednesday night, the Parks and Recreation Department should be able to start taking reservations for the space first thing Thursday morning.

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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