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Should Madison City Council Assist Gov. Walker’s Political Contributors?

September 22, 2011

More and more people are using the tone of my blog headline as they chat about the Edgewater Hotel project and the controversal  TIF funding that was approved last year.

There are more than enough reasons to oppose the Edgewater Hotel renovation without adding another one to the list.

Be it from how it impacts historic Mansion Hill, or how TIF funding should not have been used for this project, the facts that have been presented over and over are clear.  As I noted often on CP, this plan was not best suited for Madison.

In December 2009 I made it quite clear how I felt.

The fact is no matter how you look at the design by Hammes Co., as now presented, there is no connection with it to the rest of the neighborhood. There is no way to pretend it blends. It would be akin to a vegetarian plate being slapped with a huge piece of rare prime rib!

….the people who live in the neighborhood of Mansion Hill and care about the historic character of Madison have spoken. It is also true that others around the city have noticed that this matter is not only a very local concern about the grand scheme by Hammes Co. to construct a ginormous hotel at the Edgewater, but that if this can happen in one place in the city there is no reason to suggest it can’t happen in another historic area.

Therefore I was pleased that Mayor Paul Soglin made known his desire to see the large TIF package for the Edgewater development pruned back substantially.  The usual cries of foul-ball have been registered in the city, and the main players in the development plan, Hammes Co., have made pleas to the city council not to let any TIF funding be pared back.

In the midst of all this back-and-forth comes a rather unique perspective from Lucy Mathiak, a  member of the Madison School Board.  Her views are shaped by the mass turnout this past winter against the actions of Governor Scott Walker who assaulted state workers and public employees by scrapping collective bargaining.

Mathiak wonders why Walker supporters like Hammes Co should get city council support.  Will not a more prosperous Hammes only supply still more money to Republicans who then undermine all our values we care about as a liberal progressive city?

“I have real issues with channeling more profit to people who will turn around and use their personal resources to bring us the chaos and destruction, from economic hardship to assaults on basic political and collective bargaining rights, that we have seen in the past 9 months,” Mathiak writes in her letter. “While they certainly have the right to their political perspectives, I find it galling to contemplate taking from our property tax base to further aggrandize the people who have done so much damage to my state and my community.”

Madison needs to weigh in on this debate and have candid conversations with their city council member.

A phone call of support to Mayor Soglin would be in order too.

Lets roll back the TIF.

6 Comments
  1. September 23, 2011 9:46 PM

    Patrick,

    I think you are putting me on….but this will be quick.

    Old homes that are well over 100 years old, and have architectural detail and contain a story of the past should be saved regardless of where we are talking. You can not be serious about not understanding why we perserve our historic sites. In the city I fought for and brought to the attention of the mayor and our alders the damage being done to carriage stoops in an old Madison neighborhood. The street was being re-done and the construction guys had never even heard of such a thing, and therefore had no regard for them. They are a part of the past, a grand past, that needs protection. In the end they were saved.

    https://dekerivers.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/alert-madisons-carriage-stoops-deserve-city-protection/

    It is akin to not wanting Civil War battlefields to be destroyed.

    https://dekerivers.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/wal-mart-wants-to-build-near-major-civil-war-site/
    In the end Walmart was not constructed on this site, but this souless corporation would have not been stopped without government intervention.

    As for the throw away society I speak of it being cheaper to buy a new printer than an ink cartridge, or countless items that are no longer made to last, but only survive for a few years as Americans will just replace it. We have no concept of things that last. Traveling in Europe there is no way not to see the past, and that is why it is so remarkable.

    I tend to think you are putting me on…but I responded to you all the same.

  2. Patrick permalink
    September 23, 2011 8:27 PM

    you say that the “mansion district,” “the bungalow district,” and your “neighborhood” need to be preserved and for future generations. Why? I imagine that the vast majority of people in madison don’t give a rip. How is the fact that a few have their elitist sensibilities stroked a real benefit to the community? To me it reeks of a certain arrogance. By your reasoning, our great-grandchildren would fret and wring their hands because someone was going to tear down a strip mall or a walgreens. They would make all the shockingly vague and empty arguments about how our lives would be so much “richer” if we could only take away the rights of property owners to do as they see fit. After all, the goal of all modern development is transient gloom and the crushing of the human spirit, right?

    If you could identify buildings where important history was made or which uniquely emblamized some important cultural tradition or art tradition, an argument could be made. The reality is that your neighborhood merely has a selfish and overly controling home-owners association–the government.

    I don’t know what you mean by the “throw-away” society?

  3. September 23, 2011 7:45 PM

    No, Mansion Hill is a historic district, and the same is true where I live. There is reason to maintain the property in such a way so future generations can enjoy it. Using government in this fashion is wise. Like saving areas of coastline from construction, or the homes in the bungalow district, etc., we are all richer for having things perserved.

    The throw-away society that is all to prevalent requires that government act for the greater good. I hope in some small way my actions have helped in that regard here in Madison.

  4. Patrick permalink
    September 23, 2011 7:29 PM

    Why do you assume that future generations would enjoy outdated housing and rules which restrict them from enjoying a property as they see fit?

    I’m sure there are some examples of properties of true historic value; I would agree that those should be preserved. These are truely rare. Your historic restrictions are merely the actions of a minority enforcing their will onto the future. Old homes are merely old homes and cosmetics, not much more. If there were real value to them, they would be preserved naturally by property owners who value outdated styles and building methods. Choice is more important in almost, but not every, instance. Once again, the historic value you might mention in your neighborhood is subjective, but you use the government to enforce those value judgents.

    I think we agree on the Tiff, but for different reasons. Government should not pick winners and losers.

    The woman is an old bag.

  5. September 22, 2011 10:44 PM

    Patrick,

    “Old bag?”

    With the reduction in TIF for Edgewater many more smaller and more appropriate projects, more in line with how TIF was designed, could be funded.

    And no, if you buy property you should not do as you wish. That is why there are zoning ord. For example I can not put just any siding on my house or even place a sun roof if desired as the historical neighborhood comes before my whims. The longer term objectives of the area must be considered so future generations can also enjoy the area.

  6. Patrick permalink
    September 22, 2011 10:08 PM

    Madison city council should help and serve Madison. That old bag on the school board should shut up and consider what could be done to raise the test scores in her sagging district.

    Most Tiff districts, like historical designations, are poorly thought out. They always reward government insiders–democrat or republican. Madison should stand up for property rights first. If you buy the property, you should do as you like. But property owners should find the money in the private sector to bring their good ideas to life.

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