Dane County Supv. Carousel Andrea Bayrd wonders if she's been going to the wrong committee meetings for the past year and a half. Because, to her mind, the draft report of the Ad Hoc Housing Merger Committee looks nothing like what the committee she was on found.
"I am extremely disappointed by this draft final report," Bayrd wrote in an angry email to staff members last week. "It does not accurately reflect the discussion and conclusions of the committee."
The committee was formed in November 2008 by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and County Executive Kathleen Falk to look at possibly merging city and county housing authorities, to have a more unified approach to affordable housing. The resulting draft report concludes this is not legal, but recommends other ways to collaborate. And the report - which Madison Ald. Tim Bruer, the committee's co-chair, says was prepared by city and county planning staff - takes a kinder view of the city. From the summary:
"This committee has examined the data and found that the city of Madison has performed very well in integrating and dispersing assisted housing geographically. Dane County has not performed as well. The lion's share of assisted housing in all categories is in the city of Madison."
Bayrd, in her email, says the draft report is "disturbingly biased against the county, contains false facts about the quality of the county's housing stock, discounts the tremendous effort by county staff to provide detailed reports to the committee, and contains conclusions directed towards the county that are the opposition of the committee's conclusions." She feels it "praises the city's housing stock and disparages the county's housing stock."
Judy Wilcox, the committee's other co-chair and board chair of the Dane County Housing Authority, shares Bayrd's assessment. "There are a number of communities in Dane County that have affordable assisted housing," she says. "The housing authority has tried in the past to work with those communities. But for the city of Madison to tell the county or other cities what to be doing is a little untoward."
But according to Bruer, the report merely notes that while communities outside of Madison have affordable housing options, they're concentrated in just a few areas.
"It's unfortunate it was construed as a criticism," Bruer says of the report. "It was intended to look at progressive steps that could be taken by all communities.... We were encouraging the [county] housing authority to build upon its successes."
And while Bruer sees a need for "some fine tuning of the language" - the report was slated for discussion and a possible vote Wednesday night, past Isthmus' press time - he says its intent "was to come together in cooperation, not in conflict, and establish a document that can serve as a blueprint for the area."
Joshua Wescott, a spokesman for Falk, calls Bayrd's concerns "valid" and adds: "We hope the city will work to improve the report prior to it being finalized."
Greenbush park to get makeover
The Madison Parks Division is developing a master plan for the Edward Klief Park, an urban park in Madison's Greenbush neighborhood that has slowly grown to the size of a city block.
District Ald. Julia Kerr says it is well used by kids from St. James Catholic School, UW students and families with kids: "Somebody took a picture a day after a snowstorm and it was completely filled with footprints."
The city has been buying up property on the block, bounded by Bowen Court and Charter, Orchard and Milton streets. The park already has a playground, basketball and volleyball courts, a baseball backstop and recreational space. But these could be rearranged based on what residents want.
"Nothing is impossible except for maybe a sledding hill, because it's flat," jokes Kay Rutledge, Parks development manager.
The division hopes to include funding for the park in the 2011 capital budget.
Park prairie may be saved
The volunteer-planted prairie garden in the parking lot at Warner Park, which the Parks Division deemed ugly and ordered removed (see Madison.gov, 4/2/10), has gotten at least a temporary reprieve.
In an email to volunteers, Parks Superintendent Kevin Briski wrote that the committee that considered the matter last November failed to recognize it was such "an emotional issue" and should have solicited more public input.
The division originally asked the volunteers who planted the prairie to remove it by April 18. Now it will get another hearing before the Warner Park Community Recreation Center Advisory Committee on May 27, at 6 p.m.
Where's the bus stop?
Greyhound Bus Lines has exasperated many in Madison by constantly shuffling its drop-off and pickup site for passengers. Since the old Badger Bus depot was torn down last fall, the company has moved the stop four times. It's even picked up people on Stoughton Road, not easily accessible to anyone without a car - i.e., people who rely on buses.
"It's incomprehensible to me that you would have a bus stop somewhere that's completely inaccessible," complains Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.
When asked why it's been so hard to find a suitable location, Greyhound spokesman Tim Stokes says, "I'm really not sure." The company, which has 10 buses coming through Madison each day, is now using as its bus stop the North Transfer Point by Oscar Mayer, until further notice.
Greyhound, says Stokes, wants a site that "accommodates the passengers and the buses and is in a centralized location." But, he adds, "I'm not sure exactly where they're looking at this time." Well, that clears things up.