The Stoughton Common Council voted 11-1 to apply for a matching grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to help mitigate erosion along the Yahara River. [Photo by Bill Livick]
If the city wins a state grant it decided to apply for last week, work would begin next year on restoring the banks of the Yahara River at Division Street Park.
The riverbank has been eroding during periods of high water, and city officials hope to place large rocks or boulders along a 420-foot stretch of the river, just south of the Forton Street Bridge. Once the boulders are in place, the city would backfill the area with dirt, grade and seed it.
There are other methods the city may consider to accomplish the goal, but the rip rap approach is the one that’s been discussed the most.
Construction work along Milwaukee Street in Stoughton includes new curb and gutters. The cost to replace those items are split 50/50 between the homeowner and the city, however, residents objected to that assessment process at a public hearing last week. [Photo by Mark Ignatowski]
It has become almost an annual event. Residents who are being charged “special assessments” by the city for street and sidewalk improvements show up at a public hearing and complain that they can’t afford it. Many often say that the work isn’t necessary.
But the Common Council and city staff have discussed the fairness of charging homeowners for half the cost of improvements to their curbs, gutters, driveway aprons and sidewalks many times, and each time they come to the same conclusion: Both the community and the individual homeowner benefit from the work, so the cost should be shared 50/50 by the taxpaying public and the individual property owner.
The above scenario happened again last week, when the Common Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the city to levy special assessments to residents whose properties will be part of this year’s street and sidewalk improvement project.
The Common Council last week decided to appoint a yet-to-be-determined person to fill Ald. Eric Olstad’s seat in District 4 until the April 2014 election.
Olstad, who has served on the council since May 2009, decided earlier this year not to seek another three-year term but agreed to remain on the council until May 31.
The council had four options to consider: Leave the seat vacant until the election next April; appoint a replacement to serve until the April 2014 election; appoint a replacement to serve until the term expires in April 2016; or leave the seat vacant.
As in the past – two other times since October 2011 – candidates for the seat will fill out a four-question application and submit it to the council. The applicants will then appear at the Tuesday, May 28, meeting to answer the same questions, along with any others the council poses.
City officials and representatives from a local group opposed to using chemicals for weed control on city property have agreed to participate in a weed density assessment of city parks and open spaces this month.
The assessment will be conducted by University of Wisconsin-Madison entomologists Chris Williamson and Jay Anderson, an organic turf expert on the board of Madison’s Healthy Lawn Team.
After the assessment, Williamson and Anderson will each submit recommendations to the Public Works Committee about how to best manage weed growth on city property.
The committee may then make a recommendation to the Common Council about how to proceed with weed control, and the council would likely make a decision at its May 14 meeting, said Mayor Donna Olson.
The Stoughton Redevelopment Authority moved a step closer last Wednesday to establishing a revolving loan fund for improvements to downtown properties.
RDA members unanimously recommended expanding the city’s Redevelopment Area No. 2 to include much of the downtown. If approved by the common council and certified by the state, it would give the RDA authority to set up a $250,000 fund, possibly as early as this summer.
Despite a reporting error in the Hub that gave the wrong location for a public hearing, several downtown property owners and representatives showed up to support the expansion.
Among them was Uniroyal Engineered Products director of facilities Tim Wandrash.
Despite the stigma of calling an area blighted, the move would be beneficial to the downtown area, he said at the hearing.
Bev Fergus was about 100 yards from finishing her third Boston Marathon on Monday when she saw the first explosion.
She had run a conservative race til then. The last leg of the iconic race was lined with buoyant crowds as always. Racing conditions had been ideal. Her family had been tracking her progress via GPS, so they knew she was nearing the finish.
When she saw the first explosion, she wondered if it had been a celebratory cannon as smoke billowed out.
Fifteen to 30 seconds later came the second blast – this one from behind.
As police and emergency responders rushed to the scene, the runners began to slowly back up. The police told them to run. But with explosions from both the front and behind, the runners weren’t sure where to go. They were in limbo.
“That was the most terrifying moment of the whole thing,” Fergus recalled in a Tuesday phone interview. “There was no safe place.”
Four sitting alders were re-elected to their seats last week, but the city will likely be looking for a new alder in District 4.
District 4 was without a candidate seeking re-election after current alder Eric Olstad had filed for non-candidacy. That didn’t stop voters from writing his name in three times to give him a seat on the Common Council.
However, Olstad said Tuesday that he planned to not accept the seat, as he didn’t have the time to give the council his full attention.
Voters in District 1 gave Sonny Swangstu 368 votes. Ron Christianson was reelected in District 2 with 297 votes. Tom Majewski, who had failed to file for candidacy to get his name on the ballot, garnered enough write-in votes, 88, to win his seat in District 3.
A few new faces will fill seats on local town boards following last week’s election.
[Photo by Bill Livick]
From left, city residents Gennifer Weaver, Sylvia Lawrence with baby Felix, Hannah Lawrence, Eve Downie, Sara Downie and Drew Downie gather at Veterans Park, in which the women hope city officials will not use chemicals to control weeds.
Three local women are spearheading an effort to persuade city officials to abandon – or at least alter – a plan to use herbicides in city parks and athletic fields beginning this spring.
After learning of the plan about two weeks ago, Sylvia Lawrence, Gennifer Weaver and Sara Downie – all mothers with young children – contacted friends in the city who share their concerns. They established a grassroots group opposed to using chemicals to control broadleaf plants such as dandelions and clover. They also offered to help maintain park lawns and playing fields and have encouraged the city to adopt alternatives to chemical applications.
The three and about two-dozen supporters calling themselves Naturally Stoughton-Cultivating Sustainable Solutions attended a Public Works Committee meeting last Monday to question the new policy. They hope the city can find organic solutions to what some people are considering a significant weed problem.