Democracy in action

You might be wondering what this picture of my very shady front yard has to do with democracy. Well, I’ll tell you!

About two months ago I noticed that a bunch of MGE flags had popped up in my front yard. You know, the kind that mean some sort of digging is imminent. No one quite seemed to know what was happening (the flags were in the adjoining yards too) but I started to hear rumors that we might be getting a sidewalk.

Now, as someone who a. loves to walk and b. lives half a block from a school, I should be thrilled at the prospect of sidewalks. Sadly, these sidewalks mean that a big chunk of my front yard will shortly be torn up (much of the myrtle, hostas and springtime tulips and daffodils that I’ve planted over the past 20+ years will soon disappear. Sigh), I will have a double sidewalk to shovel (as we also own the adjoining plot) and my husband and I will have the pleasure of paying for most of it.

But here’s where we get to the democracy part of this story.

Throughout most of this process—which somewhat disappointingly didn’t start until I started poking around looking for answers—my neighbors and I have had the chance to attend meetings, share our concerns and offer suggestions. A big “thank you” to Chris Dawson, a city engineer, who has faithfully guided us through the process and, I’m sure, spent a lot of time trying to be as accommodating as possible. My neighbors and I haven’t quite landed where we’d hoped (a more narrow terrace for one, but the terrace IS narrower than originally proposed) but it was a good feeling to see various Madison alders (including mine, Maurice Cheeks), who appear to take their roles quite seriously.

I’ll try to remember to post another shot when my sidewalk is installed and will likely complain a lot once the snow falls and the assessment comes due. But for now I’m (mostly) cautiously pleased that my voice was (sort of!) heard.


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Knowledge junkie. Raconteur.

Vicky Franchino

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