State of city format applauded
Janesville City Council Member George Brunner said he was stopped three times by residents on Wednesday as he made his way to the back of the cafeteria after the city manager's presentation.
Brunner called the "state of the city" gathering hosted by the city "an excellent format." He said he found it more helpful than the former neighborhood meetings—which featured a question-and-answer session—because it encouraged more interaction between residents, staff and council members.
The city's various departments set up tables in Craig High School's cafeteria, along with other community entities such as UW-Rock County Center.
City staff estimated that about 60 residents attended, in addition to staff members and others at the tables.
The three residents who stopped Brunner about various topics, for instance.
Resident Barb Cisler, for instance, talked to all five council members who attended—Kathy Voskuil and Yuri Rashkin were not present—and Manager Eric Levitt about the possible sale of city parkland.
She lives near Ruger Park, one of the parks that has been mentioned in the as a possible surplus property. She said the neighbors do not favor selling the park. She noted that the city just spent money to improve the playground there.
Resident Dan Atwood said that he had seen a movie on Tuesday about homeless students in Rock County. The issue concerned him so much that he wanted to know what the city could do to help the youngsters.
Another resident who did not want to be identified asked if Brunner would consider sponsoring an ordinance to increase the penalties for people who leave their cars on the streets when the city plows.
Cisler said she appreciated the opportunity to talk to the council members about her concerns. She urged others to take a more active part in city government, saying it is easy to go on the city's website and e-mail council members.
Resident Bob Baker and his wife, Jane Kerr, also attended the event. Kerr said the opportunity for input is nice and also a good way to see what the city is doing.
Baker commended city government for its accessibility.
Levitt's presentation included a look at what residents can expect in the next year, including:
-- Continued efforts to diversify the city's economy, especially in the technology sector and biosciences. A business incubator will open next year.
-- An increased effort to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites—old industrial buildings that often have environmental issues.
-- A new website called GrowJanesville.com.
-- A new geographical information system website.
-- A new police outreach program for African Americans, similar to the programs started for Latinos and victims of domestic abuse.
-- An energy audit of city facilities.
-- Solar and hydro projects to go online at the treatment plant.