The Madison City Council has reached a new low, and is dragging the city’s signature street down right along with it.
Late last night the Council adopted a resolution put forward by Ald. Brenda Konkel that will delay the State Street Design Project indefinitely. Konkel, citing financial concerns arising from Gov. McCallum’s budget cuts, convinced nine other council members to vote with her to overturn the Jan. 22 unanimous vote to solicit proposals for construction drawings. It is possible the council will not revisit the proposal until May — if then — setting back any hope for renovation by months.
Konkel’s official reason for proposing a delay is completely illogical — the solicitation of drawings would not have cost the city a thing. Even if they did, federal funds, including the money recently secured by Rep. Tammy Baldwin, are expected to pay the majority of the expenses involved in the design project. Other alternatives, including private financing, could also be considered. More importantly, the State Street Design Project promised to be an economic boon for the city’s center, increasing profits for local business and taxes for the city. Unfortunately, such opportunities may now go unrealized, since soliciting plans was a precursor to raising and allocating funding.
As we have already noted, students would have been the greatest benefactors. Improvements to the street’s sidewalks, lighting, bus shelters and trees would have been a tremendous benefit for activities ranging from walking to class to shopping to bar-hopping. That is what makes the opposition of downtown aldermen Tom Powell and Todd Jarrell all the more disheartening. Tuesday they voted against the best interests of their constituents — students — and it is important they be held accountable.
This vote is terrible for the city in general and downtown in particular, and is a complete dereliction of responsibility by Powell and Jarrell. After 20 years of neglect State Street is slowly but surely dying and students are suffering as a result. This project has bounced around for three years and we are disappointed Konkel along with Powell and Jarrell have helped delay it another three months, if not more.