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Neighborhoods look at issues, set priorities

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
May 8, 2008
— Look West and Fourth Ward residents identified seven priorities Wednesday in the quest to improve their neighborhoods.

Top issues were:


-- Absentee landlords, including lack of housing maintenance.


-- Drug sellers and users.


-- The need to improve the riverfront, bike trail and Monterey Park.


-- The need for a community center.


-- The need for neighborhood programs for youth, possibly in the parks during summer.


-- A suggestion to allow parking on alternate sides of the street during plowing season.


-- Uncontrolled intersections.


The data, survey results and other information gathered over the last several months will be crafted by a consultant into a vision statement, a list of priorities and strategies to meet the priorities.


E. Scott Harrington of Vandewalle and Associates, a consulting firm from Madison, also will provide recommendations on how to monitor if the city is meeting the goals.


That report should be ready in summer.


Consultants asked for key issues from focus groups earlier Wednesday and from about 60 people gathered at Wilson Elementary School in the evening. General areas discussed included housing, safety, recreation and transportation.


Look West and Fourth Ward contain some of the city’s oldest housing. The neighborhoods have lower average household incomes than the rest of the city and a larger percentage of renters.


The Fourth Ward has a higher rate of childhood poverty than the rest of the city and saw an increase in arrests in 2007. Crime numbers remained stable in Look West.


But the areas also have advantages.


They contain affordable housing with historic character. They are near the downtown, which is becoming more attractive to city residents.


Harrington described the neighborhoods as having “strong relationships with the river,” which is another asset to capitalize on, he said.


“I think this is wonderful,” said Joyce Heussner before the meeting. She lives in the Fourth Ward.


“I hope we can get something going.”



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