Council hopes to increase access

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May 13, 2008
— The city council reached out to the public Monday, seeking participation.

“Citizen comments are very important to us,” councilwoman Amy Loasching said after the meeting.

She had made the suggestion to move a citizen comment period from the end of regular meetings to the beginning.

“It’s because I watched citizens come in—some of them elderly—and sit in the audience, and the meeting would sometimes drag on so long after a couple of hours I watched them end up walking out. We never got a chance to hear what they came here to say,” she said.

The council also added a listening session before the first meeting of the every month.

Loasching also requested a future discussion on how other cities fill committees and commissions.

Don Allison, 731 N. Garfield Ave., who waited through Monday’s three-hour meeting to speak, lauded the decision.

Speaking in front of the council often is the only option because e-mails aren’t answered, he said.

Councilman Russ Steeber urged people to call him rather than e-mail him because the city’s Web site does not work properly.

Residents who want to speak at meetings about matters not on the agenda now can speak at the beginning. Meetings start at 7 p.m. Before, only residents speaking about items on the agenda spoke first.

Public hearings during the meeting also provide residents time to speak.

Council members continued the limit of three minutes per speaker, although council members can waive that limit.

Councilman Tom McDonald was the only council member to vote against moving the comment period forward.

He worried that people on the agenda may end up waiting too long before their business is conducted.

Residents will continue to be asked to sign up to speak.

The council also scheduled half-hour listening sessions beginning at 6 p.m. in City Hall before the first council meeting of each month. The first listening session is Monday, June 9.


In other business, the Janesville City Council on Monday:

-- Disbanded the Public Works Committee but voted to keep two council members on the plan commission.

-- Approved a request from the Neighborhood Action Team to establish a community garden on city property at 419 Rockport Road. The first clean-up day is Saturday.

-- Approved a TIF agreement with the developer of a building at 1260 Milton Ave. Milgold LLC will renovate the building for $1.1 million. The city will provide up to $160,000 in TIF assistance.

The council created TIF No. 29 to stimulate the redevelopment of the aging commercial corridor along Milton Avenue.

-- Voted to borrow $62,150 to reopen Riverside Park Wading Pool and spend $30,100 to operate it this summer.

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