In "Transforming Madison Libraries" (2/17/2012), Jay Rath's interview with Barbara Dimick, the retiring director of Madison Public Library announced the intention to set aside space in the Central Library branch for a "maker's space." While likely following the admirable steps of the Fayetteville Free Library of Fayetteville, N.Y., the choice is puzzling given the space such a project demands. Maker's spaces typically require power tools and soldering tools and frequently include 3D printers, laser cutters or vacuform machines. I hope that with the Central Library renovations they make sure to include provisions for the structural and electrical demands - above and beyond those of a normal library - for a robust maker's space. Otherwise the effort will be wasted.
I am relieved that the Madison Public Library continues to be devoted to the democratization of all sorts of knowledge and learning and I hope that devotion keeps them from balking at the price tag associated with giving our citizenry the chance to build and learn.
Mark Bannon, Port Washington
I appreciated the insightful comments of Sen. Chuck Chvala about Gov. Tommy Thompson's bid for U.S. Senate ("Meet the New Tommy Thompson," 2/17/2012, Letters, 2/24/2012). They were balanced and thoughtful - something regrettably absent from political dialogue today.
When Democrats in Wisconsin lost majorities in both legislative houses, Chuck Chvala brought the Senate back to the majority and battled an extremely popular and powerful governor, as well as a Republican Assembly majority, to obtain lower K-3 class size throughout Wisconsin. He also obtained SeniorCare, the prescription drug program that saves both taxpayers and seniors money vs. the Medicare drug program. Both programs remain in place today.
As the principal legislative opponent of Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum through three state budgets and six years, Chvala is among the best people to comment on Tommy Thompson from the Democratic perspective.
If Chvala were still majority leader today, the entire Scott Walker agenda would have been stopped before it started.
No laughing matter
Laurie Stark, we are gladdened that you get a good laugh from Joel DeSpain's police information releases ("The Reign of DeSpain," 2/24/2012). And Mr. DeSpain, we are thrilled you can proudly tell your children that your job is "fun." As one of our family members was the subject of an MPD press release, we can take credit for some of this!
We are also thrilled that as soon as that press release hit the Internet we began helping people in need of a good laugh! Isn't it great how the Internet brings people together?
We are grateful that a family member made some poor decisions as a teen, culminating in a petty misdemeanor, and are reminded of our contribution to your pleasure each time we relive how this public information release influenced this child's friendships and efforts to find a job.
Sure, sometimes we wish there could be a news release that clears names, because this child has worked very hard to straighten up and be a positive citizen. But people like you couldn't get happy-hour laughs from that, and the Huffington Post and Boing Boing wouldn't be interested. We know - suffering, error and redemption, and all that entails are just not funny.
Dave Cieslewicz asks, "Can we get over our fear of heights?" ("What Do We Want to Be?" 3/2/2012) He claims the Edgewater building was "just too big."
No, the proposed Edgewater project was located on residentially zoned property that did not include a hotel as a permitted use and was in a landmark district whose requirements for the size and scale of infill development were not even close to being met. "Fear of heights" is not just a misleading oversimplification of the Edgewater proposal; it diminishes the entire subject of predictable zoning, neighborhood plans and plat restrictions that give people confidence in their neighborhoods.
Madisonians are not afraid to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but they are getting tired of having to defend their properties and neighborhoods against the effects of prohibited development promoted on the basis of cheesy slogans like "fear of heights," and being portrayed as small-minded scaredy-cats when they are really patriots for their neighborhoods.
Frederic E. Mohs
Fighting over fair Verona
I was disappointed but not surprised to read County Executive Joe Parisi's rebuttal ("Say No to Urban Sprawl," 3/2/2012) to Larry Kaufmann's opinion column ("The Do-Nothing Ethic," 2/17/2012) regarding development in Verona. Parisi, like his predecessor, just doesn't get it when it comes to economic development. They are among the naysayers claiming that Verona has plenty of land within its current urban service boundary and that to add more is considered sprawl. It is true that Verona has significant acreage within its urban service area; however, when it comes to economic development, it's all about location, location, location.
The subject of a six-year debate is land that lies at the only easy-on, easy-off diamond interchange in Verona. The only developable quadrant of the intersection has been the subject of extensive study at significant cost to Verona. Results of the study indicate that controlled development may actually improve the water quality of the "world famous" Sugar River.
While I'm happy to see Dane County working on plans to market local agriculture products and other countywide initiatives, the county exec should recognize that most economic development happens through the efforts of cities and villages. Therefore, the best thing he and Dane County government can do to promote economic development is to support these efforts rather than oppose them.
Larry Saeger, Verona