Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Monona Notes

Two days and three meetings.

Yesterday, the selection committee interviewed candidates to be the new Director of Public Works for the city of Monona. The committee consisted of Mayor Robb Kahl, City Admin. Pat Marsh, Executive Secretary Leah Kimmell, Leslie Busse, Alder Dennis Kugle, Chris Homburg, and me.  We struggled to choose between the final two candidates - they had different strengths, which made choosing difficult. The committee recommended Daniel Stephany, currently Public Works Director in Wrightstown. Final confirmation is pending background check and council approval.

Today, the facilities study selection group interviewed three candidates to review two major city buildings and make short and long-term recommendations. The buildings are the community center/senior center and city hall/police/fire/EMS. We interviewed three firms. The group consisted of Fire Chief Scott Sullivan, Police Chief Walter Ostrenga, Park & Rec Director Jake Anderson, Senior Center Director Diane Mikelbank, City Admin. Pat Marsh, Executive Secretary Leah Kimmell, Leslie Busse, GIS Specialist/Landscape Architect/Director of IT Jeff Greger, and me. The committee reached a recommendation and again I hope to be able to announce results soon.

Finally, the AD HOC PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE SAFETY COMMITTEE held a public information meeting "on pedestrian, bicycle, and traffic safety, including the potential for sidewalks, along South Winnequah Road."

We heard from many residents along that roadway, all of whom were opposed to installing a sidewalk. Staff had put together estimates for several sidewalk combinations with a cost between $165,000 and $229,000.

The Committee voted to recommend that the city not install a sidewalk along that roadway. Other than Chief Ostrenga who voiced his support for a sidewalk, I was probably the last holdout. In the end, the cost was just too high and it would start a war amongst ourselves that I have no interest in pursuing.

The Committee had previously made a number of recommendations. I was not at that meeting, but only disagree with one recommendation.

A motion was made by Mr. Veserat and seconded by Ms. Thomas to keep both stops signs as is (at Maywood Road and Frost Woods Road). Motion approved 3 to 1. Mr. Kugle opposed the motion stating he felt the stop sign at Frost Woods Road should be removed.

Notes: I still oppose the stop sign at Frost Woods. I do not believe it is warranted by any of the conditions. Many drivers make a cursory stop (a slow-moving 'stop') because their experience tells them the stop sign isn't needed and you will never get good compliance in that situation. 

A motion was made by Mr. Veserat and seconded by Mr. Kugle to eliminate consideration of speed tables/humps. Motion approved unanimously.

A motion was made by Mr. Veserat and seconded by Ms. Thomas to recommend squaring off the choker approaches at an estimated cost of $25,000.00. Motion approved unanimously.

A motion was made by Ms. Weix and seconded by Ms. Thomas to mark and sign the bike lane as a bike and pedestrian lane. Motion approved unanimously.

A motion was made by Mr. Kugle and seconded by Mr. Veserat to install small speed meter signs in both directions in the area of Graham Park at a spot to be determined by the Police Department. Motion approved unanimously.

Note: The committee agreed that two signs would be installed, one on each side of the road (rather than mounting two speed meter signs on one post). These signs do not the large solar-powered arrays that were briefly installed here (and are now located on Monona Drive).


A motion was made by Ms. Weix and seconded by Mr. Kugle to paint full intersection crosswalks at Bridge Road, Graham Avenue, Frost Woods Road, Owen Road, and Maywood Road. Motion approved unanimously. Note: The Committee added the intersection of Moygara tonight. We also added the pedestrian flag boxes at Frost Woods and at Maywood.

George Lightbourn got off the best line of the night when he referred to Winnequah Road as Monona's "science project." Some other folks made the same point - "why are we talking about this road again?" The simple answer is that residents keep bringing concerns about the road to the city council. It seems everyone can find something to dislike about one aspect of the road or another. Some don't like the bump outs, some don't think it is safe for pedestrians, especially school children, some think the speed is too high, or the lanes are too narrow.

The council will take up the committee's recommendations either on March 7 or March 21.


  1. "The simple answer is that residents keep bringing concerns about the road to the city council."

    Further, the residents are not easy to ignore; they are political connected. It was easy to ignore them when the mayor did not live on that street. We never hear from other streets or people because they would not know where to start, who to call or how to voice their concerns or blieve that they would be taken seriously.

    Thus, we will keep trying to help these poor people of lower Winnequah figure out what they need or want-when we full-well-know that there are better issues to spend our time on.

  2. I'm sorry but that is rubbish, codswallop, nonsense, baloney, or horse-hockey.

    You get a group of ten or fifteen residnets together and show up at a city council meeting or a committee meeting and I gurantee you will not be ignored. The road got attention before the mayor moved there. Yes, some of the people who raised concerns were 'politically connected', but more were not. And on the whole, they were persistent.

    And we have also heard from non-Winnequah residents who don't like some aspect of the road.

    You wouldn't know how to start or who to call? C'mon. Make a phone call or send an email to an alder or the mayor. Attend a committee hearing or a city council meeting, if you can bring along some like-minded folks, much better.

    Can you name an instance where residents who made an appeal were ignored? (Which is not the same as getting what they wanted).

    This is a small town, you don't have to be connected to be heard.

  3. Perhaps, I should ask Mike, but it sure looks like he is trying to make the point-residents on this stretch of ride are never going to be satisfied.

  4. I can live with the stop sign at Frost Woods; it's gone from mildly annoying to acceptable, and it helps bikers and walkers negotiate that intersection with the assurance that traffic on Winnequah traveling either direction has to stop before taking a right/left onto Frost Woods.

    Sidewalks would be ideal, but it's understandable in this economy the city wants to avoid that cost. Less understandable is the desire of the neighborhood to avoid them in "my yard" -- have these folks heard of right-of-ways? Winnequah is a public thoroughfare, one of the busiest in the residential part of Monona, and the need to make that road safer extends to beyond just the opinions of those who live there.

    For the life of me, I still don't understand the reluctance for modest speed bumps along lower Winnequah, south of Frost Woods. Speeding does seem to be an issue there, based on anecdotal observations while biking, and they can be found everywhere in Madison and other communities these days (and are very effective to keeping speed down to 25 mph, not 10 or 15 mph). Two speed bumps/tables -- one 100 yards north of Bridge Road, the other 200 yards south of Frost Woods -- would do wonders to limiting speeders on that road and making it more safe for bikers and pedestrains. And it's cost-effective; see this link for what they might look like on a road similar to Winnequah (at a cost of $3,500 tops --less than the bump-out reconfiguration).


  5. Apparently the heart of the matter is not public safety but rather appeasing the residents of Winnequah Road. If the road is unsafe for pedestrian traffic, build a sidewalk. But the residents don't want that for a variety of reasons. Designating the bike lane as multiple use bike/pediastrian lane is a feel good measure that won't increase safety. Mix use lanes simply do not work. The safest approach is separate car/bike/pedestrian lanes.

    I agree that the Frost Woods stop sign is unnecessary, the very nature if the T intersection controls the biggest safety concerns.

    The bump outs have been a failure since their inception. Not inky do they not work , their use is confusing to those cycling through the area that aren't familiar with them. Non-residents (and even done residents) are confused by their presence. Are they part of the road or very short sidewalks.

  6. plz stop wiht the madness around Winnequah road i do not care. your book reviews are grrreatt.

  7. That's good enough for a final word for me.

  8. I wouldnt mind stop signs throughout all of Winnequah Rd. I live on the N end and any type of pedestrian travel is somewhat dangerous mainly from speeding traffic. If the police wont enforce speed then speed hups, stop signs bike/ pedestrian lanes are nessesary.