Monday, March 9, 2015

What you may not know: Week of March 9

It's a committee week for the Appleton Common Council, and here are some of the items I'll be keeping an eye on:

Community and Economic Development Committee, Monday, 5 pm

This committee has been in the spotlight for some time now as they and the council as a whole have worked their way through a decision regarding the proposed Fox Cities Exhibition Center. If you haven't been following the news, on Wednesday the council voted (10-4 with one abstention) to approve an offer to the county to purchase the proposed site with contingencies including the following:

  • An agreement between the city and the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel regarding management of the facility.
  • Agreement between all participating communities to raise their respective room taxes to finance the construction.
  • The Appleton Redevelopment Authority securing financing based on the room tax revenue.
Under the current agreement, all three of those items must be met by November 30 so the transaction can close.

Two of my colleagues and I had previously submitted a resolution calling for the city to disengage from that process, but with last week's vote to proceed we've decided to withdraw that item. Debating stopping the process just five days after council voted to proceed seems like a poor use of our time at this point.

With that item off the table, the lone action item at this meeting is a request to approve the sale of two lots in the Northeast Industrial Park, located at the corner of Capitol and Zuehlke Drives. Romenesko Developments, Inc. has offered the city $35,000 per acre for the two parcels, which is below our recently-approved asking price of $40,000. The reason for their lower offer is some increased expense in construction due to necessary stormwater mitigation. I'll be interested to see how the committee elects to handle this request.

Municipal Services Committee, Tuesday, 5:30 pm

The Municipal Services Committee will see a pair of items of interest this week, including a sign request in a very visible location on College Avenue downtown.

Two weeks ago the committee recommended approval (on a 3-2 vote) of a request to allow a new sign to be installed at Bazil's Pub, extending off the front of the building and overhanging the street right of way. The sign is a roughly 9-foot-tall beer bottle with "Bazil's Pub" written on the side, and the image has made some of my colleagues uneasy.

This item was referred back to committee at last week's council meeting, and I'll be interested to see if any committee members have changed their mind since voting on this matter the last time.

In addition, on Tuesday night this committee will also approve five changes to traffic and pedestrian patterns along Midway Road to address vision and safety issues along this busy thoroughfare. In brief, the immediate recommendations are:
  • Resuming enforcement of the city's existing vision corner ordinance in this area to allow pedestrians and motorists the maximum possible visibility with the current layout.
  • Installing raised pedestrian islands at Midway's intersections with Hemlock/Southfield and Kernan (estimated cost $150-200,000)
  • Prohibiting left turns and pedestrian crossings at Midway's intersections with Woodcrest Drive and Barker Lane.
  • Installing a crosswalk with warning lights at the intersection of Midway and Whip-Poor-Will Ln. This carries a price tag of around $30,000.
The memo we received on this project didn't specify a likely timeframe for these improvements, but I'm operating under the assumption that any approved recommendations would be included in the city's 2016 budget.

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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