As part of the 2017 capital budget, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin halted various projects across the city, one of which was the already-delayed construction of the $8 million Madison Police Department’s Midtown station.
The Madison Board of Estimates met Tuesday evening to discuss the details of the project and get answers from MPD officials as to why the project has been consistently delayed since its initial planning in 2008.
Ald. Mark Clear, District 19, said he felt a sense of “déjà vu”at the meeting, as a year prior, the board was told that the station’s construction would be pushed back to the 2017 budget.
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Other alders, such as Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, Maurice Cheeks, District 10, and Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1, also voiced their frustrations with the continuous delay.
“Why are there delays?” Bidar-Sielaff asked MPD officials at the meeting. “Why aren’t we on time?”
The construction of the Midtown police station, under its current budgetary conditions, is slated to begin July 2017.
Since the Midtown station, set to replace Mt. Olive Church on Mineral Point Road, would largely serve Madison’s west side, Harrington-McKinney expressed the concerns of her constituents.
“We have to be equitable for all of our citizens,” Harrington- McKinney said. “This is an issue of public safety and it is in the best interest in the citizens of the west side community [for this project to no longer be delayed].”
Echoing a similar sentiment, Ald. Denise DeMarb, District 16, suggested having updated reports for council members, as she said her residents felt their basic public safety needs are not being met.
Council members were not the only ones angry with the continued delay. MPD Capt. Jay Lengfeld said he was “extremely frustrated” and believed there hasn’t been a real desire to move forward with the project.
“I understand city staff sometimes have a difficulty [accomplishing certain things] when the mayor, who is their boss, is not in favor of something,” Lengfeld said.
While Soglin wrote in a blog post that his budget would only push the project back two to three months, MPD Chief Mike Koval said he is already frustrated by the fact they’re 12 months behind schedule.
Koval also mentioned that a large number of his constituents believe there is a definitive “delaying tactic” taking place, making residents nervous.
The board will continue meeting for the next two months to discuss the project’s details. City Council is expected to take a final vote on the proposal when they vote to approve the 2017 capital budget in November. Lengfeld said they estimate receiving the certificate of occupancy somewhere between May to July 2018.