Sunday, February 5, 2017

What you may not know: Week of February 5

First off, my apologies for missing last week's update: I was sick and had all I could handle balancing that and other responsibilities.

This is the first committee week in February for the Appleton Common Council, and here are the highlights from a light week of agendas:

City Plan Commission, Monday, 4 pm:

For the last several meetings now the City Plan Commission has been conducting a chapter-by-chapter review and update of the City's Comprehensive Plan, which contains goals and aspirations for every city department and was completed in 2010. This week the Commission will be asked to approve all of the chapters we've reviewed to this point, allowing us to make any necessary amendments before sending a recommendation to council for their meeting next week.

To date the commission has reviewed updates to 14 chapters, including:

  • Community Vision
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities and Facilities
  • Natural, Historic and Cultural Resources
  • Economic Development 
  • Land Use
  • Planning for the downtown corridor
  • Parks & Recreation
This process hasn't drawn a lot of attention, but the Comprehensive Plan is something that's referred to and discussed frequently in deliberations on a variety of important city decisions. While nothing in this plan is binding for future councils, it is a framework for the future of our community.

Board of Health, Wednesday, 7 am:

On Wednesday, for the fifth consecutive month, a resolution calling for Appleton to allow the keeping of urban chickens will appear before the Board of Health as an information item and no official action is expected.

Over the course of several discussions on this topic it's become pretty clear that there's a diverse array of opinions on chickens among the board members (including two council members and the mayor). To date issues that have become challenging for the board have been neighbor notification/approval and the application fee structure.

While I appreciate the efforts the board has made to give this item a fair and thorough discussion, at this point I'm just hoping they make a recommendation, any recommendation, so this item can move on and be discussed and voted upon at council. That's not expected to happen this month, so the earliest the board could vote on it at this point is Wednesday, March 8.

Fox Cities Transit Commission, Wednesday, 3 pm:

A few hours later on Wednesday, the Transit Commission will meet to take a very long overdue step to help Valley Transit continue to provide reliable transportation services across the community in the years to come.

VT's maintenance staff has done remarkable work in recent years to keep buses running while working with a rapidly aging and deteriorating fleet, which includes buses that were purchased in the 1990's and have logged over one million miles. For some time now we've been engaged in a process to purchase new buses, which has included the following:
  • Applying for and waiting for approval of federal funds for their share of capital projects.
  • Budgeting the local share of a bus purchase with funds collected from all of VT's member communities.
  • Determining how best to allocate the funds available to make the most and highest quality improvements to the fleet.
  • Locating a larger transit organization making a bus purchase that will allow us to "add on" to their purchase to ensure availability of buses at a reasonable price.
Two weeks ago the Transit Commission learned that staff had located an organization to work with, and this week the Commission will be asked to approve the purchase of three buses. This isn't a cure-all for everything ailing an organization that faces many challenges, but it is a step in the right direction.

You can see all of this week's meeting agendas 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. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.

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