A Look Back At 2013 In Middleton

MTT News Desk's picture
By: 
Matt Geiger
In one of our top stories in 2013, Russ Feingold, pictured here at his longtime home in the City of Middleton, took the time to sit down for an interview with the Times-Tribune before taking a new position as special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region.

TIF FOR ACS BUILDING

The Middleton Common Council on Jan. 15 approved The Carey Group’s request for $400,000 in developer-financed Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The deal is designed to attract Affiliated Construction Services (ACS) to a yet-to-be-built facility in the Good Neighbor City.

The Madison-based developer’s formal request for TIF, dated Jan. 2, said The Carey Group Real Estate Services, LLC is pursuing a 40,000 square foot build-to-suit development for ACS on Lot 19 within the Middleton Corporate Center. (The parcel is on the northwest corner of Nursery Drive and Deming Way.)

“In an effort to provide ACS with favorable economic terms and a level playing field relative to the competition, we are seeking city assistance through developer-funded TIF financing,” wrote developer Timothy Carey in a letter to city planner Eileen Kelley.

ACS is a single-source provider of what it calls “fully integrated facility and equipment solutions,” serving the international engine- and vehicle-testing markets. The company specializes in the design, construction, integration, and commissioning of development and production testing facilities for engine, vehicle, and components manufacturers.

Created in 1978 as a spin-off from Flad Architecture, the company has grown to provide services internationally, serving Harley Davidson, John Deere, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Navistar, Caterpillar, Whirlpool Corporation and other companies.

The preliminary development budget, according to Carey’s figures, is $4.34 million. It includes $605,000 for the land, slightly more than $3.155 million for construction, and $580,000 to remedy “soft soils.”

According to Middleton’s city administrator, Mike Davis, the TIF promised last week will be “primarily for soils remediation as well as an economic development incentive to ACS.”

Davis said the company would bring about 40 total employees to Middleton, including 25 who work in manufacturing or support, and 10 to 15 engineers from the company’s Madison office. Davis said ACS’s current facility in Verona is “undersized.”

 

CORRIGAN

AUTHORS GUN RESOLUTION

The Dane County Board on Thursday, Jan. 10 approved Resolution 206, calling for President Obama, the United States Congress and the Wisconsin legislature to enact a list of measures intended to curb gun violence.

The board approved the resolution, which was introduced by Supervisor Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton) and co-sponsored by 27 supervisors, by a margin of 29-2.

Supporters said the resolution is part of an effort to counterbalance the National Rifle Association’s political sway. It calls for action to curb access to certain kinds of firearms and to reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals “in order to decrease the number and impact of mass shootings in the United States.”

Those who voted against it said the non-binding resolution won’t do anything to prevent future tragedies.

Some supervisors abstained from voting, saying state and federal gun laws fall well outside the jurisdiction of the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

“From a grocery store parking lot to a movie theater to a place of worship here in Wisconsin to an elementary school, this crushing string of mass shootings has one thing in common - the wrong kind of guns in the hands of the wrong kinds of people,” said Corrigan. “We can talk about the culture of violence, we can talk about mental health care, we can talk about a wide range of long-term solutions. But the first step is clear - get the assault weapons off the streets.”

The resolution calls on the federal government to “renew and strengthen the federal ban on military-style assault weapons and also ban domestic and imported large capacity ammunition magazines.”

It also urges the state legislature to “ban habitual criminals from obtaining concealed carry permits, make the purchase of a firearm for someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm a felony, make the possession of a concealed firearm by those prohibited under Wisconsin law a felony, and require that private gun sales be subject to criminal background checks performed by a federally licensed gun dealer.”

Supervisor Dave Ripp (District 29, Springfield) cast one of the two votes against the resolution.

“It’s been tried before, this gun ban stuff,” he said. “It didn’t work, and I don’t think it would work this time around either.”

Ripp said there are other tactics that would be more effective in limiting mass shootings.

“My thought is we need to focus more on mental health, and we need to change the way we see things,” Ripp said. “A lot of these shooters actually warn people they’re going to do it, yet people just ignore them. We need to change that.”

Ripp said he owns a semi-automatic rifle, which he uses to hunt. “Personally, I got it when I was 12 and I’ve hunted with it ever since,” he said.

The resolution was delivered to President Obama, Congressional Leaders, Governor Walker and Dane County legislators.

 

TEACHERS GET NEW CONTRACT

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Board of Education in February approved a new contract for fulltime teachers. The deal, which was hammered out amidst the fallout from Act 10 and a cloud of lingering uncertainty about the state of collective bargaining for public employees, covers the 2013-2014 year.

The Middleton Education Association (MEA) teachers’ union ratified the contract on Valentine’s Day. Following the school board’s vote, MEA president Chris Bauman said she was “proud” the two sides came to an agreement.

Under the new deal, salary increases will be determined at the school board’s discretion, after the district receives pertinent information about state aid levels.

Teachers who take part in a Health Risk Assessment maintain their current 12 percent contribution toward their annual health insurance premiums. Those not completing the assessment will contribute 15 percent.

Gone from the new deal is Fair Share, so the district will no longer automatically withdraw union dues from all teachers’ paychecks. While emails show the union initially fought hard to maintain Fair Share, the contract approved by the school board makes it clear teachers may opt out of – and stop funding – union activities.

According to the district, the contract includes calendar changes and less frequent, but full-day, professional development days for staff.

Following the school board’s ratification of the deal, MEA president Chris Bauman thanked the school board in an email.

“On behalf of the MEA bargaining team and every teacher in the District, I want to thank you for approving the Master Contract last night,” Bauman wrote. “A special thank you [to] those who sat on the negotiating team.  I know it meant time away from your families and other obligations, but I believe all of our work was worth it.”

Bauman wrote that the MEA negotiating team is “thrilled that we were able to reach an agreement given all of the uncertainties with the legal process surrounding Act 10.”

Superintendent Don Johnson said “the overall tenor of the talks” was “respectful and productive.” He called the new contract “a foundation that will allow the district to move forward in a positive environment to support students, staff, parents and the community at-large.”

 

 

CITY COUNCIL WORKS TO CURB UNDERAGE DRINKING

The Middleton Common Council in February reiterated its opposition to, and significantly increased local penalties levied against, adults who help minors gain access to alcohol.

District 1 alderman Paul Kinne said the ordinance, which was approved unanimously, was designed to counter a “disturbing trend” in which adults believe they are preventing drunk driving and other dangerous activities by allowing minors to drink in a safe setting.

“[P]eople assume that if teenagers aren’t driving … there’s no harm,  no foul,” Kinne stated.

The vote to impose fines of up to $5,000 for repeat offenders showed the Middleton Common Council disagrees with parents who feel that way. The ordinance says it is intended to “clearly address the problem of adult-hosted underage drinking parties, and to discourage underage possession and consumption of alcohol, regardless of the location within the City of Middleton.”

Adults contributing to underage alcohol violations, who in law enforcement circles are called “social hosts,” are now subject to $500 in fines for each of the first two violations, $1,000 for the third violation, and $5,000 for each subsequent violation, during a 30-month period.

The fines were also reviewed and approved by Municipal Judge Marjorie Schuett.

According to a report by the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy project, the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Wisconsin high school students showed 39 percent had consumed alcohol within the proceeding 30 days and 24 percent had engaged in binge drinking in the previous 30 days.

Middleton’s ordinance says it is intended to stop parents from providing a “safe haven” for unlawful consumption or possession of alcohol.

“It’s already illegal,” Kinne pointed out. (Hosting such parties is unlawful under a state statute that had been adopted by reference in the City of Middleton Code of Ordinances.)

So Kinne said the changes approved by the city serve as “a restatement of policy” and to “drastically increase the penalties.”

The ordinance seeks to punish parents who host, facilitate, or even fail to stop such parties if they have knowledge of them. It asserts that “too frequently adults in the City of Middleton facilitate underage drinking parties where underage persons are permitted to consume and possess alcohol without being accompanied by their parent, legal guardian or adult spouse.”

The ordinance goes on to say that “regardless of intentions, such events frequently lead to irresponsible, dangerous and unlawful behavior.”

Violations listed in the ordinance include knowingly permitting underage persons to consume alcohol; providing a hotel,  motel or other room or property for rent where teens will consume or possess alcohol; and failure to take “reasonable action” to prevent such violations.

District 7 alderman Hans Hilbert said social hosts might unwittingly be causing “destruction” to young people, so it was time for the city council to act.

“It really is our role as government to show that these laws are on the books for a reason,” Hilbert said.

 

 

MAYOR TALKS TAXES

Much of 2013’s State of the City Address was similar to what was presented in recent years: the mayor touched on property values, development, employment, sustainability, taxes, public safety and growth.

Some wasn’t: this was the first time a member of the state legislature made an impromptu appearance to let the audience know local schools were closed due to a nasty ice storm. (It was Rep. Dianne Hesselbein.) 

On the surface it was a minor change, but perhaps the most significant aspect of Mayor Kurt Sonnentag’s speech Thursday morning at the Marriott was that he altered the way he presented information about the local tax rate – opting to delve deeper into the data in order to preemptively address accusations the city’s low tax rate is merely the result of high property values. 

Sonnentag said the city had the lowest tax rate among cities (and some villages) in Dane County. While in past years he has used the mill rate to illustrate his point, on Thursday Sonnentag factored property values into the equation, showing tax bills for Middleton residents are second lowest, after Stoughton, even when adjusted to reflect home values.

Sonnentag told those gathered at the meeting, which doubled as the Middleton Chamber of Commerce’s monthly “Get Moving Middleton” event, that the city is near pre-recession levels of building permit activity. He used the speech to jest about what he called “a golden opportunity” – both for the city to further enhance quality of life, and for those present to “play hooky” for a couple hours to hear his address. 

Sonnentag said local property values rose 2.2 percent in 2012, bringing the municipality’s land worth back up to $2.7 billion, where it stood in 2007.

He also pointed out that crime is down, with the rate in 2012 at its lowest point in more than a decade, according to the FBI Index.

Sonnentag stressed the fact that Middleton is a net importer of employees, attracting an estimated 16,000 daily workers while 8,000 residents who live in the Good Neighbor City commute to work elsewhere. “Our employment base here is wonderful,” he commented.

Sonnentag didn’t exclusively cheerlead. The mayor acknowledged a challenge currently faced by the city: debt for Pleasant View Golf Course. While the course benefited from warmer weather in October and November of 2012, and finished the year with an operating profit of $454,757, Pleasant View remains saddled by debt from the initial purchase of the land and upgrades to its facilities.

Sonnentag also said the city is working to come up with a stable revenue source to pay for storm water maintenance. That source will likely be a new utility charged to citizens. 

 

 

HEATED RACES FOR TOWN BOARD

The general theme of 2013’s three contested races for Middleton Town Board was nothing new in the world of politics:

The incumbents said local government is on solid footing, and their experience can help keep it that way. The challengers said it’s time for fresh voices, accusing many on the current board of being out of touch with their constituents.

What was unique, at least for the Town of Middleton, was the hostile gist of the candidates and their supporters.

Those who endorsed challengers Cynthia Richson, Greg DiMiceli and Troy Alton said the Town of Middleton is growing and changing, and it’s time to break up a current “Good Old Boys Club” that doesn’t listen to most citizens. (There are currently no women on the board.) The challengers said town government sat idly by while the American Transmission Company (ATC) plans to birfurcate the town with a total of four high voltage power lines, all of which are slated to link up with the West Middleton Substation. They said the town should do more to determine where those lines go, fighting to protect property owners from devastating effects on property values, health and quality of life.

The incumbents didn’t claim to be fans of ATC’s plans, but they contended the town has little, if any, jurisdiction over the lines.

The incumbents said the town’s levy, debt load and other finances are all in order, and that challengers distorted the ledgers in an attempt to paint an overly grim picture of municipal finances.

One of the most divisive issues stems from Alton’s platform. He said the town should allow people to walk their leashed dogs in local conservancies. Incumbents said they tried allowing dogs in the past, and it didn’t work because dog owners let their pets run freely.

 

TEACHER KICKED OFF 

BALLOT

Photocopied signatures of support prevented David Dahmen’s name from appearing on the April 2 ballot, according to an order issued by the Government Accountability Board (GAB).

Dahmen had hoped to challenge Area 1 school board incumbent Jim Greer for his seat.

However, the GAB ruling asserted that Dahmen’s failure to turn in original signatures before the filing deadline constitutes a clear failure to follow Wisconsin’s election laws.

In his summary of the ruling, Michael Haas, elections division administrator for the GAB, writes that  “Middleton-Cross Plains School Board Clerk [Annette Ashley] did not act contrary to the laws or abuse her discretion” when she opted to disqualify Dahmen in January. Ashley concluded Dahmen’s nomination papers were not “timely filed, and were not in the physical possession of the filing officer by the statutory deadline as required by [Government Accountability Board] rule 2.05(2).”

Haas expressed “regret” that the GAB was unable to place Dahmen’s name on the spring ballot.

“In general, the board prefers to allow candidates to remedy defects in nomination papers and allow voters to sort out any concerns regarding a candidate’s actions in filing required paperwork,” Haas wrote. “In this case, however, the law is clear that original nomination papers must be filed and that the error cannot be corrected after the filing deadline.”

Haas added that Dahmen’s problem is “one consequence candidates risk when submitting nomination papers on the day of the filing deadline.”

Most of the facts in the dispute were not in question.

Dahmen submitted his nomination papers on January 2, 2013, the last day before the deadline passed.

When he submitted his nomination papers, Dahmen had in his possession both original documents and photocopies of the nomination papers. Dahmen later said  he was prepared to file either the originals or the photocopies and that he intended to rely upon the advice of the filing officer, Cheryl Janssen, as to which set of papers he should file.

At the time Dahmen submitted his paperwork, he waited for Janssen to indicate whether he had complied with the filing requirements. He also states that he asked if the documents were adequate and Jansen replied in the affirmative.

Janssen stated that, in response to Dahmen’s question, she reviewed his nomination papers, and stated that “he was all set.”

On Jan. 3, one day after the filing deadline had passed, Janssen reviewed candidate paperwork and determined that Dahmen’s nomination papers were photocopies. She contacted staff at the GAB, who confirmed that only original documents were acceptable.

Janssen then contacted Dahmen, requesting that he bring the original nomination papers to the District Administrative Office in Middleton. Dahmen delivered the original paperwork on January 3.

The GAB order asserted that it “the responsibility of assuring that nomination and candidacy papers are prepared, circulated, signed, and filed in compliance with statutory and other legal requirements lies with the candidate, David Dahmen.”

“Mr. Dahmen cannot rely on Ms. Janssen’s general statement that ‘he was all set’ as a conclusion that the filing officer had reviewed the nomination papers for sufficiency,” the ruling continued. “Although there may have been a miscommunication between Mr. Dahmen and Ms. Jansen at the time the copies of nomination papers were filed, or simply a failure to address the issue, the candidate must bear the consequence of not clarifying that he was filing copies rather than original documents.”

The order also states that neither Ashley nor the GAB has the authority to extend the statutory deadline for filing nomination and candidacy paperwork for any candidate.

 

INCUMBENTS TROUNCE 

CHALLENGERS

Sitting local candidates easily defeated their challengers across the board in the Spring Election.

In the Town of Middleton, Chair Milo Breunig, Seat 1 Supervisor Tim Roehl and Seat 2 Supervisor Bill Kolar all overcame spirited challengers and walked away with decisive victories. None of the challengers - Greg DiMiceli, Cynthia Richson and Troy Alton, respectively - crossed the 40 percent threshold.

In their race for a seat on the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Board, incumbent Diane Hornung trounced Fred Zietz for the second time in a row. Teacher David Dahmen’s write-in campaign was little threat to the candidacy of sitting school board member Jim Greer in Area 1.

 

REFERENDUM BUILDING BEGINS

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Board in 2013 unanimously approved a resolution awarding the sale of $59.86 million general obligation school building bonds.

Proceeds of the bonds fund additions and renovations at Kromrey and Glacier Creek middle schools, projects that were approved by voter referendum in November of 2012.

The winning bid came from Piper Jaffrey & Co., based out of Minneapolis. The interest rate is 3.0957 percent, which equates to $27,222,548 in net interest costs over the life of the borrowing.

The vote came three days after Moody’s Investor Services applied a glowing Aaa rating to the district for the issuance. 

Middleton-Cross Plains is one of only five districts in the state to earn the maximum rating, which Moody’s attributed to a favorable location within the greater Madison economy, a growing population and robust general fund.

The school district’s land wealth again came into play, with Moody’s noting that the district, which included 37,298 people as of the 2010 census, has a full valuation of $5.8 billion. Moody’s also took into account the fact that the district’s per capita income of $45,626 is 171 percent that of the national average. Dane County’s low unemployment rate of 4 percent also factored into the rating. 

Post sale the district will have $92 million in outstanding general obligation debt.

The interest rate suggests citizens living within Middleton-Cross Plains will see an impact on their tax bills that is extremely close to what the district suggested when it rolled out the referendum.

The school board followed its vote to approve with a round of applause.

“Now we will have the money to pay for these projects,” stated Tom Wohlleber, the district’s superintendent of business services.

 

ATC LINE 

POWERS UP

American Transmission Co. in 2013 energized the completed 32-mile, 345-kilovolt Rockdale-West Middleton Transmission Line.

The project was first introduced to the public in 2004, kicking off with a comprehensive outreach effort which included 22 public meetings attended by 3,300 people over three years. More than 2,600 written comments were submitted by stakeholders and included in the company’s application to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

In 2009, after nearly two years of regulatory review, the PSC ordered a portion of the line to be built along the Beltline Highway.

The line can carry 1,267 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 239,000 homes.

ATC is a Wisconsin-based company that owns, operates, builds and maintains the high-voltage electric transmission system serving portions of the Upper Midwest. Formed in 2001 as the nation’s first multi-state transmission-only utility, ATC has invested $2.7 billion to improve the adequacy and reliability of its infrastructure. ATC now is a $3.1 billion company with 9,440 miles of transmission lines and 525 substations.

 

STUDY SAYS NO NEED FOR 

PARKING 

STRUCTURE

A 2013 study suggested there is little need for a downtown parking ramp, news that was met with chagrin by many local business owners who have been calling on the city to build the structure with Tax Increment Financing.

Talk of constructing a new parking ramp is still circling, and parking limitations in the downtown area and beyond have been the source of much frustration for some time now, according the group that has been applying pressure on city leaders. In response, the City of Middleton recently hired Walker Parking Consultants to conduct the downtown parking ramp study.

On February 26, Philip Baron of Walker Parking Consultants presented the results of the draft study to Middleton residents. Baron offered a summary of the study’s findings, discussing the parking counts that were conducted, noting the total amount of public and private parking spaces, and pinpointing the peak weekday and weekend parking demands.

The Walker Parking Consultant study found that after identifying Middleton’s parking issues, current parking needs can be taken care of with the current parking supply.

Baron indicated that “even with existing vacancies filled, in addition to future anticipated parking demand, there would still be an adequate supply of parking spaces within a reasonable walking radius and that a public parking ramp is not justified at this time.”

Resident and local engineer/urban planner Wayne Pferdehirt agreed, noting, “there is lots of parking, it’s just underutilized.”

 

MUSEUM HEADS UNDERGROUND

The National Mustard Museum is down but not out. Literally.

The Middleton Common Council voted 5-2 last year to provide an additional $10,000 in Tax Increment Financing for the kooky but financially troubled museum, which will soon move into the basement of the building at 7477 Hubbard Ave. where it is currently located.

Barry Levenson, owner of the National Mustard Museum, which includes both a for-profit store and a non-profit collection of memorabilia, said the money will be used for “reimbursable moving expenses.”

The city approached the property’s owner, Anchor Bank, in an attempt to maintain street level access for the museum. However, Levenson said the move to the basement, which currently houses a collection valued at $100,000, is not being forced upon the business.

“The bank did not in any way force us into this,” Levenson said. “It is a rational and reasonable business decision that we have made in consultation with Anchor Bank and the city.”

“The new subterranean National Mustard Museum will have a gift shop similar to what we already have, different but exciting,” he continued. “People will find us because we will continue to be worth finding.”

Levenson said he is looking forward to the challenge. “And being just on the one lower level will mean less wear and tear on my knees,” he added.

The National Mustard Museum has struggled to pay its rent and debts in recent years; a problem Levenson said was caused by the fact that his for-profit store was unable to full subsidize his free non-profit museum. He said it is “too early to tell” if calls for donations will yield enough additional funding.

“We know that Middleton is behind us and that is a very important motivation to us,” Levenson said.

 Ald. Jim Wexler (Dist. 4), who made the motion to provide $10,000 for moving expenses, said the Mustard Museum plays an important role in Middleton, attracting vital tourism dollars to the Good Neighbor City.

“I think the city should do everything it can to keep the Mustard Museum here,” said Wexler. “I’m sorry to see it move into the basement, but I believe they can make it work.”

“It really is in our best interest to work with them,” Wexler added.

Not everyone on the city council agreed.

Ald. Gurdip Brar (Dist. 2) opposed the funding, calling it “simply outrageous.”

“Would the city do the same for another business in the downtown area or elsewhere? Brar asked rhetorically. “I doubt it.”

The National Mustard Museum (formerly the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum) moved to Middleton with the help of $1,450,000 in city assistance. The final agreement was a three-way deal between the City of Middleton, HP Holdings and the Mustard Museum. A $1.4 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) loan went to HP Holdings for construction of the building. $50,000 went directly to the Mustard Museum for costs associated with relocating from its former home in Mt. Horeb.

HP Holdings later went bankrupt, which is why Anchor Bank ended up owning the building.

Ald. Hans Hilbert (Dist. 7) said he’s a big fan of mustard, but went on to say he doesn’t relish the idea of providing another round of TIF funding to the museum.

“I think that the free market will ultimately dictate what happens to the museum and to the other units in the building,” said Hilbert. “Rewarding a business owner who just decided to only pay half his rent because he felt that it was too much isn’t exactly a good partnership.”

For his part, Levenson said the move will allow the museum to “move forward and convince the council to declare the entire city of Middleton a ketchup-free zone.”

 

CITIZENS SPEAK OUT AGAINST ERDMAN 

DEVELOPMENT 

The Middleton City Council got its first glimpse of a development proposal that would transform 162 acres of rural land between U.S. Highway 14 and Pleasant View Golf Course into an assortment of residential neighborhoods situated around a working farm.

Erdman Holdings, Inc. submitted early-stage conceptual plans for the project, which is being called Pleasant View Ridge. The developer indicated it needs feedback from city leaders before returning with a more refined proposal.

Planning documents show Pleasant View Ridge containing 104 home sites on lots both large and small.

About half of the homes would be on parcels of about 6,500 square feet and would utilize community septic.  The larger home sites, occupying about 20,000 square feet, would use individual septic systems. 

Proponents of community and individual septic systems (as opposed to urban utilities) say they are environmentally friendly because they help recharge groundwater.

The developer hopes to break ground in 2014 and complete the project by the end of 2019.

Erdman is best known in the Good Neighbor City as the developer behind Middleton Hills, an exercise in new urbanism.

An April 9 letter from Erdman’s Jane Grabowski-Miller to city leadership indicated the new proposal is based on the related ideology of “new ruralism.”

“Building on the principles and practices of new urbanism, Pleasant View Ridge will have the features of new ruralism which, as defined by the Urban Land Institute, combines the development of livable communities with the preservation of a community’s rural character, often through sustainable agricultural practices and clustered home sites,” Grabowski-Miller wrote.

In a subsequent interview with the Times-Tribune, Grabowski-Miller went on to say the philosophy is intended to work as an antidote to urban sprawl.

Alderman Jim Wexler (Dist. 4) responded positively to the pitch, saying he “is really looking forward to making it a reality.”

But not everyone was so impressed. The Erdman proposal has sparked public outcry, both locally and across Dane County. Critics have said Pleasant View Ridge is simply urban sprawl using greenwashed name, and that its reliance on private septic systems could damage the ecology of the treasured Black Earth Creek watershed.

 

TERRACE AVE.

PROJECT FLIPPED

Plans to redevelop Terrace Avenue and North High Point Road were turned on their head  when the Middleton Common Council abruptly decided to proceed with phase two of the project before it tackles phase one.

The new plan is markedly different than any of the three options recommended by the Middleton Plan Commission seven says earlier.

Phase two involves rebuilding Terrace Avenue between Parmenter Street and North High Point Road.

The project, which is being funded using Tax Increment Financing and costs an estimated $2.8 million, includes new sewer and water utilities and a new streetscape using decorative bricks to match pedestrian friendly areas elsewhere in the downtown. Construction is slated to begin in 2014.

Phase one, which city councilors made a point of saying has not yet been explicitly approved, had previously been the primary focus of planning work and committee discussions. Phase one would focus on improving the intersection of North High Point Road and Terrace Avenue, and could include a new parking lot in the area, a re-alignment of the intersection and possibly public art. Work on phase one was initially expected to begin in 2013.

But the city council’s motion, which was approved 6-2 with aldermen Hans Hilbert (Dist. 7) and Howard Teal (Dist. 5) in opposition, means the city could easily re-appropriate the $1.5 million it already borrowed for phase one. The additional $1.3 million to fully fund phase two could also be borrowed using TIF.

 

SHARE JOINS CITY COUNCIL

Miriam Share used to spend her Tuesday evenings singing in the Madison Symphony Chorus. As the newest member of the Middleton Common Council, she now occupies those nights using her alto/soprano to vote “yay” or “nay” on policy decisions that shape the city’s future.

Share ran unopposed for the council’s District 1 seat after incumbent Paul Kinne chose not to seek another term in the Spring Election. She was sworn in by assistant city administrator John Lehman on Tuesday night.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has lived in the Good Neighbor City since 2007. She works as an account executive for Clear Channel, Madison

While she’s a freshman councilor, Share is no stranger to the inner workings of city hall. She served as a citizen member on Middleton’s sustainability and arts committees, as well as running an unsuccessful campaign for the District 4 common council seat back in 2010.

“I’ll say now what I said when I first decided to run for this seat,” she said three days before taking the oath of office. “I see this as a natural extension – as the next step in the work I’ve been involved in here in Middleton for a number of years.”

Share’s ascent means the eight-person council – which was all male until Susan West (Dist. 6) first won her seat in 2008 - now has three female members. The trajectory toward gender equity is “a good thing,” Share observed.

In fact, she sees much of what’s happening in the city right now in a positive light.

“Middleton is growing, and

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