Categotry Archives: Informative

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Park Improvements Underway

Categories: Informative, Park Activities

It has begun! Park improvements got underway last week—the old playground equipment is gone, the swings were removed, the gravel by the swings gathered up, and that crappy fence is coming out today. Want to be more in the loop? Get in touch!

~Alfonso

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With that natural berm maybe we don’t need a replacement fence. What do you think?

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Hard at work, with the help a massive truck yanking out the posts, removing the dilapidated fence.

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Agh! Where’s the playground?! Don’t worry, new equipment is on the way, plus a nice natural wood chip surface instead of pebbles.

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Playground Improvements – First Meeting

Categories: Informative, Park Activities

While the basketball courts and fence are being addressed this year, last night’s meeting with Mike Sturm, landscape architect and planner from Parks Department, focused on making primary decisions about the playground improvements.

The department’s process was explained to a committee, which formed from the attendees, and choices on age range usage, surfacing and equipment styles were made. The committee went with a natural wood product for new playground surfacing, which will replace the gravel currently there, and the PowerScape line from manufacturer GameTime was selected to generate equipment options.

Example from the PowerScape line.

Example from the PowerScape line.

Mike Sturm will take the information from the meeting, run some numbers, make some drawings, and schedule a second meeting for the committee to make more decisions, leading to an intended September installation. If you have input you’d like to share about playground improvements, send an e-mail and I’ll make sure it gets to the committee.

-Alfonso

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2013 Park Improvements Meeting

Categories: Important, Informative, Park Activities

A mailer should have gone out for this special meeting discussing park improvements slated for this year and beyond. For instance, happening later this year, the basketball courts are getting replaced, the fence is coming out, and the playground equipment is getting updated. All this needs your input!

6PM ~ Wednesday, May 8
Community Room in Hawthorne Library
2707 E Washington Ave

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May 8, 2013 Meeting for the Park

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First Welcome to Darbo Meeting

Categories: General, Informative

Soglin talking to kidsDuring a meeting at the mayor’s office a few months ago, Soglin asked Alder Rummel and I to put something together for the residents of the Eastpointe and CDA apartments in Darbo/Worthington. I understood the intention was to poll folks on what they saw as the future of their neighborhood. With substantial help from Deenah Givens at Goodman Community Center we put on an event for April 29th.

Sticky Notes ExerciseWhat I helped create to frame this special meeting was the concept Welcome to Darbo, what could turn into a series of events aimed at specific issues facing the Darbo/Worthington neighborhood. Though turnout was less than hoped for, the meeting was a success and quite encouraging.

Perspectives heard during that first Welcome to Darbo were valuable. However, what I found more interesting I learned while door knocking prior to the event. There are residents passionate about change but perhaps stumped by what to do or where to go with their opinions, let alone they may feel marginalized by a perceived socio-economic status, especially if their previous attempts to address concerns fell on deaf or unconcerned ears.

It’s around this borderline broken spirit with apathetic undertones, concerned folks need to rally, to help demonstrate things can be accomplished if the voice is loud and forceful enough and the mission unified, regardless of financial standing. I won’t go into here what issues are most pressing among people I talked with but I will say this: Summer’s gonna be interesting 😉

-Alfonso

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Youth Services: Update

Categories: Important, Informative

Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin announced last month to reopen their real estate search and stated they will not pursue the purchase of 3051 East Washington Avenue, the former location of McDonald’s.

We wish Casey Behrend, the Youth Services board, and all staff the best in finding a site for their headquarters, and we thoroughly appreciate their reevaluating locating in Darbo after the voices of residents and community stakeholders were heard.

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Alder Forum

Categories: Informative

Meet the District 6 Alder Candidates
Monday, March 25th
6:30PM ~ 8:00PM
St. Bernard’s Catholic Church ~ 2450 Atwood Avenue

  • Please use the parking lot entrance at the back of the church
  • Moderated by Art Hackett, retired reporter from WPT’s Here and Now
  • Questions compiled from neighbors and business owners
  • Time for brief Q&A from the audience
  • Evening concludes with reception at 8:00PM

For more information, e-mail D6AlderForum [at] gmail.com.

Sponsored by Marquette Neighborhood Association, Schenk Atwood – Starkweather – Yahara Neighborhood Association, and Worthington Park Neighborhood Association.

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May as an Operative Word

Categories: Important, Informative

As seen in the Cap Times, the article Study says homeless facilities may up value of nearby property and the study it draws upon will probably be mentioned in the future by supporters of the Youth Services and Salvation Army proposals.

Without citing more than one study from one major metropolitan city, in this instance Philadelphia, a case can hardly be made for increasing property values but it is an interesting place to start. Studying that impact is precisely what Youth Services and Salvation Army could do before approaching the Darbo community and looking to our Neighborhood Resource Team for support. Also referenced should be third-party analyses of how these agencies have offered and operated their services in the past. Regarding Salvation Army’s intention to build a homeless and transitional housing campus on Darbo, it would be helpful knowing how communities in other cities were affected by a Salvation Army expansion of this size.

The value increase mentioned in the article relies on bulky conditions—access to capital, resources, effective management, education, after care—and values are still subject to throes of economic contraction. With the seriousness of what’s at stake, I fail to see how a substantial argument can hinge on the word may.

-Alfonso

Reminder: The listening meeting for Youth Services proposal is January 16 at 6:30 in the Salvation Army basement.

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Youth Services, Alder Rummel Listening Meeting

Categories: Important, Informative

Alder Marsha Rummel Listening Meeting scheduled to discuss Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin’s desire to relocate to 3051 East Wash (McDonald’s).  A new 18,000 sq ft facility is being proposed for their new headquarters, including an 8-bed homeless shelter for at-risk youth so come hear details and ask questions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
6:30PM
Basement of The Salvation Army
3030 Darbo Drive

View Meeting Flyer

Also see:
Cap Times Article
Neighborhood Update

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Neighborhood Update – New Year’s 2013

Categories: General, Important, Informative

This past November marked my first full year as a board member of the Worthington Park Neighborhood Association. WPNA diminished to a frail group over the years, with low meeting turnout and the bare minimum of officers, but the small collective was determined to make progress. After incremental growth, things slowed a bit in the Spring due to board turnover, and residents were disheartened by Salvation Army’s curious decision to mow down the community garden. Then with the realization of McDonald’s leaving becoming more and more real, and its departure date drawing closer and closer, we started feeling our community’s value and security threatened, not to mention its economic future. What’s going to help the tax base? The title loan store? Roll your eyes along with me, it’s OK. But those tight to the group stayed the course and focused on Summer.

And what a Summer we had! Pee-wee soccer games and Mentoring Positives “Family Fun Time” in the park, a bicycle rodeo, the annual meeting and pasta dinner, and an incredibly successful Darbo picnic, due in no small part to the hard work and generosity of community organizations. From a few Madison businesses we received food and water for the picnic but the bulk of donations came from Salvation Army, including free school supplies that brought folks in from across the city. Most people I talk with have reservations about Salvation Army as an entity (ideology, stance on homosexuality, etc), and their reservations are understood, but when the picnic effort needed help, they came through. Sadly, that glimpse of partnership was dwarfed by their immense proposal for 3030 Darbo, which I learned of just one month ago. Coupled with what I learned of Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin’s proposal only one week after that, I’m preparing for an interesting year.

Salvation Army
Have you seen the construction of The Constellation on East Wash? It’s quite the project. According to their site, The Constellation will be “12-stories of upscale apartment living and business space in a five star location.” Never mind their logo looks like it fell out of 1950s Las Vegas, the building will have a contemporary expression. The point is that whole area is going to explode with redevelopment. Maybe that’s why Salvation Army is seazing the opportunity to offload 630 East Wash, which currently holds their 20-bed facility for homeless persons, and construct an even larger shelter on Darbo.

That’s right. From what I’ve been told, Salvation Army will sell 630 East Wash and move its shelter operations to 3030 Darbo, after building an extension, or extensions, and possibly repurposing the gymnasium. It would make financial sense, I get that. Capitalizing on a local real estate market upswing by selling a now hot property, that over the last decade has been a dog in the church’s portfolio, is a smart move—on paper. It’s another thing entirely when an organization considers enlarging its homeless services capacity and relocating those services within a weakened community.

Economic hardship is hitting many nowadays. Perhaps the impetus is financial troubles. Money worry can prompt people to make hasty decisions. These decisions can have awful consequences for the environment in which they’re executed. Though the beginnings of decay can be hard to detect, the long term effects of poor choices are all around us. Fiscally responsible does not necessarily equal socially acceptable. Can Darbo/Worthington handle the impact? And that’s just one proposal.

Youth Services of Southern Wisconsin
These folks have good history in Madison, particularly around where they currently are in the SASY neighborhood (Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara). People at Youth Services do important work. I support their efforts. However, there’s cause for pause before supporting their intention to relocate in Darbo, if just to help ensure all things are considered. Or is it too late?

Property developer EMI plans to buy the McDonald’s property at 3051 East Wash. According to Youth Services, EMI wishes to construct a new two-story building there, and Youth Services intends to occupy.  By lease or by sale, it’s uncertain, but occupy nonetheless. At this new location, Youth Services proposes a 28-day maximum stay teenage homeless shelter, among other services for youth and adult clients. Sure, these other services are the bulk of what Youth Services intends to do, but a teenage homeless shelter less than 500 feet from a large shelter for adults proposed by Salvation Army? Without the teenage shelter, a high concentration of at-risk youth and a high concentration of homeless persons in a blighted area? Maybe these and other questions are answered in a Community Impact Report for each proposal.

[Unfamiliar with Community Impact Reports? This is a good introduction.]

The Salvation Army and Youth Services proposals directly affect a low income area, a challenged section of the east side with its own Neighborhood Resource Team, but no Community Impact Reports have made there way to WPNA. Why do these proposals show so much progress when there has been so little resident or community stakeholder input? A concern is that the voice of the neighborhood might not really be heard on these matters, that considerable momentum could be sustained by the time public meetings are held. The Executive Director of Youth Services stated their organization has been working the deal for over a year. Where have we been?

Well, since August, I have been in western Pennsylvania though the last 4 weeks I spent in Madison talking with who I could to get information. See, coming off a successful picnic and witnessing renewed spirit in the neighborhood, I thought I could help stabilize a new association board from Pennsylvania then step down to a support role. Despite being out of town, people could always get in touch via phone, e-mail or Facebook. Regarding the proposals, no one did. I’m asking why, and I will ask in person because I’m moving back to Madison in January.

Worthington Park is important to me. I believe the community’s health and prosperity are important to many more, and I want folks coming forward to talk about its future.

Now’s the time. Get involved.

Wishing y’all a Forward New Year,
Alfonso Flores V
President, WPNA

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New Community Garden Application

Categories: Garden, Informative, Park Activities

WPNA is excited about being thrust very quickly into the CACSCW New Garden application process. Some folks remember earlier this year the community garden on Salvation Army property was, er, discontinued. We do not want to go another season without neighborhood gardening space so getting approval for Spring 2013 was made high priority.

The proposed site is actually in the park. With support from WPNA and community partners, a Friends of Worthington Park group is being established to facilitate the application process, as well as provide foundation for future park activities.

We need volunteers!
Master Gardeners, youth leaders, community activists and prospective gardeners are all encouraged to contact Friends of Worthington Park for more information.

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