Judge Doyle Square, pet ordinances pose extensive debate for City Council

Ald. John Strasser discussed pet licensing in a city meeting.

Image By: Emily Buck

Decisions on whether or not to pull the plug on the ongoing Judge Doyle Square hotel project and pet licensing ordinances faced lengthy debate at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting from alders and community members alike.

Testimony regarding the Judge Doyle Square project, a proposed hotel construction near Monona Terrace, was contentious given the timing of local elections in the spring.

“I’m against using public money to help subsidize in any kind of a way a private enterprise. I would like this debate to happen before the mayoral election instead of putting it off and putting it off and making it seem like it’s being deep-sixed,” public speaker Melanie Foxglove said.

The proposal, in which the Council would either accept the favorable Judge Doyle Square hotel project report or postpone and end the project indefinitely, was supported as a means to boost Madison’s tourism industry, unique as a smaller city, and as a means to bring in more revenue for unrelated city projects.

The public funding for the private Judge Doyle Square hotel entity is necessary, according to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

“We spend a lot of money on community services, on parks, and on recreation. That money has to come from somewhere,” Soglin said.

Other alders however disliked the uncertainty and the outdated timeline surrounding the Judge Doyle Square project.

“This has been kicked around for well over six years,” Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, said. “During that time, the hotel market has changed. Despite that fact, the city continues in its dogged path. This is to me the height of recklessness.”

Failing to resolve the issue, the Council chose to table the Judge Doyle Square measure as of press time.

“We need to step back, and we need to revise,” Ald. Denise DeMarb, District 16, said.

The proposed pet ordinance measure, which would require all owners to tie their unsupervised dogs on a 10-foot tether when outside or otherwise be fined as well as raised pet license fees, passed, but questions arose as to how the numbers were determined.

“That sounds like a nice number, but there is no facts or policy dictating that 10 is the right number,” said public speaker George Meyer of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, expressing concern that the ordinance would be harshly applied against owners in violation.

In response, Ald. John Strasser, District 14, explained that the number was a compromise, and stressed that the proposed measure would not be enforced roughly against unknowing owners.

“What we have here is a lot of viewpoints, and the consensus reached between those viewpoints,” Strasser said. “The first thing we want to do whenever we find a problem is correct the situation. It’s only the chronic cases we use the [financial penalties].”

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