Common Council approves "leap of faith" for Allied Drive
Post by Katjusa Cisar on 1/23/2008 10:44am
"I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t comfortable with this until the last few weeks. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very easy to vote no on this, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot harder to vote yes. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s give this a shot," said District 10 Alder Brian Solomon.
Calling it "our opportunity to do an experiment," District 3 Alder Lauren Cnare added that she hopes the Allied neighborhood "gets a new name and becomes one of those jewels we show (visitors)."
The former Simpson Street neighborhood, another Madison area notorious for crime and slum landlords, made exactly that kind of transformation recently, according to Stuart Levitan, chairman of the Community Development Authority (CDA), which is in charge of the Allied redevelopment.
The city turned Simpson Street around, gave it a new name (Lake Point Drive) and "has been accepted to the point of applause," said Levitan, who spoke passionately in favor of doing the same thing on Allied Drive.
All the Allied Drive community members who spoke at Tuesday nightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s meeting spoke in favor of the housing development, many saying they had been skeptical at first but came around slowly after a series of neighborhood discussions.
But District 2 Alder Brenda Konkel, who had been squabbling openly over the issue with Levitan on thedailypage.com forum for days, was not convinced. With a series of failed amendments, she tried to change language in the proposal that would strictly define "low-income household" and ensure that the project helped more households within these parameters.
"Of the 31 people who are still in these properties (to be demolished for the project), one half of them wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t qualify for these units," she said.
Calling the $214,000 per-unit price tag "outrageous," she added, "All weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing is moving the bubble (of low-income people) around, the same thing weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been doing since the 90s. We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mislead the neighborhood."
Thuy Pham-Remmele agreed. The District 20 alder likened the project to schools that showcase improved reading scores from one year to the next but fail to mention that the slower kids had been moved elsewhere and that the testing scores reflected a new batch of kids.
Because the housing development would include three-bedroom apartments for families, Pham-Remmele criticized it for not also including a commitment to getting a school built in the neighborhood.
"WhereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the school? For years, Allied kids have been bussed all over the city. If I was from Allied, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be very upset," she said.
With Pham-Remmele and Konkel as the only no-votes on the project, the Allied revitalization project passed shortly after 11 p.m.
A proposal to certify all new city buildings with a "green" designation also generated a heated discussion.
Some criticized the certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as a waste of money on something the city already does.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to pay to hang a certificate in the foyer. We would be spending $25,000 for a certificate that says we did a good job,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Judy Compton, District 16 alder.
Even the proposalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s creator, District 12 Alder Satya Rhodes-Conway, admitted that "essentially this resolution would not change anything." But she and many others argued that LEED certification required a "thorough process" that made the upfront costs worth it.
After discussing and rejecting amendments that would put caps on the cost of certification, the resolution passed.
Earlier, the Council voted against adding more ad-wrapped Madison Metro busses.
One citizen registrant, Chuck Litweiler, criticized the city for Ã¢â‚¬Å“wasting money on aesthetic projectsÃ¢â‚¬Â like the new bus shelters around the Square and on State Street.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t waste money on aesthetics until we can afford to un-wrap busses. Why not full size ads on garbage trucks or the Central library? This wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be the end of it,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.