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HomeCity of AppletonAppleton City Council Update: April 7, 2024

Appleton City Council Update: April 7, 2024

Hello, Neighbors! Happy Sunday once again. It’s a Committee Meetings Week and the last meeting of the current makeup of council members on these committees.
Beginning the week of April 15, there is a new council with a couple of new members due to last week’s election. I know what you’re wondering: is there any change in the balance of the council with the new members? It turns out that there is not a substantial change as most of the aldermen in the even-numbered districts (who were up for election in this even-numbered year) were re-elected. The two new members seem to have similar political stances to those aldermen they are replacing. So… there will likely not be any change in the balance (or lack thereof) of opinions on your city’s common council in this upcoming new council year.

Nevertheless… we forge on with this week’s meeting schedule and your alderman’s rundown of what you can expect to hear about this week:

Monday, 04/08/2024

Municipal Services Committee – 4:30pm Members of this committee will hear and look to approve a long-term temporary permit for the closure/limiting of street parking and sidewalks in front of the upcoming Lawrence University/Trout Museum development on College Avenue between Drew and Durkee Streets. The signage and orange barrels are already up so I’m not sure why this committee needs to approve this at this time… but I will ask why the cart seems to have been put before the horse on this item.

Perhaps the item on which most discussion will take place is a follow up on the three-times-held resolution asking for changes to the overnight parking policy in the city. Here is the latest memo from city staff regarding resolution. What it boils down to is that there are a lot of expenses to the city to enforce a potential plan of odd/even parking seven months of the year and no overnight parking in the remaining five winter months of the year. The expenses — enforcement personnel, added fleet vehicles for street sweeping and enforcement, and a towing contract for removal of illegally parked vehicles along with the as yet undefined costs of the administrative burden that comes with citations, appeals, invoicing, and collections — are not outweighed by the estimated enforcement revenue to the city. And this solution is not at all a solution for those who want year-round overnight on-street parking. I’m very concerned about the added tax burden of the expenses associated with this potential plan which will not solve the year-round dilemma of those looking for allowed overnight parking. It seems that overnight parking is most requested in the downtown older neighborhoods. So implementation of this potential option (odd/even for only a part of the year) would need to be subsidized by other neighborhoods where there is less of an overnight parking need. What are your thoughts in this regard? Are you in favor of any changes to the city’s current overnight parking policies? What, if anything, would you suggest for changes to the policy which would not add cost to city taxpayers?

In the information items on this committee’s agenda is a memo regarding the status of Bird scooters in the city. Since the company filed for bankruptcy and is restructuring, there are some serious concerns about their level of service in the City of Appleton. According to the memo, “…Bird has not submitted timely payment of fees due to the City and has not fulfilled obligations related to monthly reporting from the 2023 season.” As such, it is recommended that the scooter program in the city be suspended until the company’s restructuring is complete. I believe that many in the city would not be disappointed if the program were permanently discontinued in Appleton. What are your thoughts?

Finance Committee – 5:30pm There is only one action item on this committee’s agenda this week — a contract for ~$1.4M for repair and maintenance of the city’s red and yellow parking ramps in 2024. While this proposed contract is $200,000 below budget, I’m still shocked by the high expense of these repairs and maintenance. I am hopeful that the city’s parking utility will begin seeing in-the-black years as the US Venture 222 Building project progresses. But in the meantime, folks, the taxpayers of this city are subsidizing the downtown parking ramps in the city.

Parks and Recreation Committee – 6:15pm Committee members will be asked to approve a contract for playground equipment at Highview Park in the amount of $95,000. This proposed contract, too, is under budget. There seems to be a positive trend of under-budget bids coming in to the city. Let’s hope this is a trend that will stick for a while.

Tuesday, 04/09/2024

Fox Cities Transit Commission – 2:50pm This meeting has been cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

Utilities Committee – 4:30pm This meeting has been cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

Wednesday, 04/10/2024

Board of Health – 7:00am These early riser board members have only one action item to discuss and potentially approve — a noise variance request for the city to proceed with sanitary and storm sewer construction on the streets listed in this memo. The memo also mentions that there is an odor emitted with the construction process, one that comes from a styrene curing that will be taking place. Neighbors around this project will be notified by mail about the project sounds and odors they might experience while the construction occurs. In the information items portion of this meeting, there will be a mental health presentation and a review of a dangerous animal declaration.

Appleton Redevelopment Authority – 9:00am This meeting has been cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

City Plan Commission – 3:30pm After this commission’s action items, there will be a discussion about the mayor’s Taskforce on Housing Development. I am very interested in where this is going and what advances have been or will be made in city policies to encourage growth of housing in the city. I will share more with you when I know more. Here is the initial guide to be presented and discussed. But before we get to that point, there are two action items for commissioners to discuss and vote on:

  • a new preliminary plat for a subdivision on the south side Calumet County portion of the city (near Midway and Plank Roads)
  • a request for a change to the special use permit to allow for a sidewalk cafe at 523-525 W College Avenue

Human Resources and Information Technology Committee – 4:30pm This meeting has been cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

Safety and Licensing Committee – 5:30pm A bartender’s license (for an applicant with five OWIs) which was approved by this committee when it last met but which was originally recommended for denial by the Appleton Police Department (APD) is back in committee for “re-discussion.” When this committee last discussed it, they did so amongst themselves and with the city attorney present at the meeting. There was, however, no questioning of the APD representative at that meeting — Chief Polly Olson. The applicant produced some documents showing that he had completed some court-required classes and therapy after his latest OWI conviction (which, since it was his fifth OWI, was his second felony offense). I will be interested to hear whether the APD has a different opinion from their recommendation to deny this license after the presentation of the applicant’s “evidence of rehabilitation.” I am concerned about the decision-making ability of this applicant, despite the evidence presented. State law notes that “no license… related to alcohol beverages may be issued to a ‘habitual law offender’ where the circumstances of the habitual law offenses substantially relate to circumstances of the particular licensed activity.” This statement directly from state statute, to me, trumps everything else we have heard regarding this application… no matter how much I empathize with the applicant or feel that he may be working diligently on his personal rehabilitation. It is the safety of the citizens of the entire City of Appleton we council members must keep in mind, no matter how we feel about supporting an individual in his recovery journey. What are your thoughts?

There are a few other items on this committee’s agenda as well including a number of temporary liquor license requests and a request from the Appleton Fire Department (AFD) to accept a ~$24,000 grant to purchase laryngoscopes for patients in need of intubation during AFD EMS calls. The city clerk will also talk about the upcoming ward changes in the city due to the statewide redistricting “new maps.”

Community and Economic Development Committee – 6:30pm There are no action items for this committee but they, too, will discuss the newest guidelines that have come from the mayor’s Taskforce on Housing Development (see City Plan Commission notes above). There will also be a discussion on the Community and Economic Development Department’s request for proposals from consultants who will help the department use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to revamp the city’s Neighborhood Leadership Academy. The policies and procedures of this academy are not well defined or documented at this time and the consultancy is being requested to help solidify and build that program up in the city in the future. The ARPA funds for this consultancy ($100,000) were just approved last week by the common council.

And with that last meeting, we will complete this council year with the current council members. As mentioned in the opening of this post, next week’s Full Council Meeting Week will be the first of the “new” council for 2024-25.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding any of the items mentioned above or on any other question or concern you might have. Thanks for reading again this week! Have a wonderful week ahead.

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