Common Council discusses new police station, public market in 2016 budget talks

The Madison Common Council is set to approve its 2016 budget this week, ending a process that began in September when Mayor Paul Soglin introduced his capital and operating budgets. 

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Budget talks for the 2016 fiscal year entered their final stages at a Madison Common Council meeting Tuesday as city leaders and community members discussed new city proposals.

The proposed construction of a new police station on the city’s southwest side drew controversy during public hearings. The Midtown police station would create a new police district and add eight new police officer positions.

Though many community members support the new station, Mayor Paul Soglin initially delayed the construction, citing more pressing needs in community centers.

However, the Board of Estimates aimed to get the police station project back in the operating budget in a meeting last week. To do so, the Common Council would have to gather 14 votes in favor of the project.

Supporters of the project have said the station will improve safety in the area as the city’s population grows, as well as alleviate the workload for area officers. 

David Glomp, a resident of Madison’s west side, said building a new police station would “cut response times in both the west and the south [police] districts.”

In addition to the police station, city officials have increased discussion on a proposed public market on Madison’s east side.

The project would cost a total of $14 million and create more than 265 new full-time jobs, according to Meghan Blake-Horst, an east side resident and co-founder of MadCity Bazaar, an urban pop-up flea market.

According to the public market business plan, the site will feature a mix of food merchants, arts and crafts vendors and community event centers.

Although Soglin initially proposed construction of the market to take place in 2021, the recent Oscar Mayer plant closure has added a new pressure to create jobs in the area.

The council voted 16-4 in favor of an amendment to move up the timing of the market’s construction.

Soglin also noted a time crunch in getting state funding for the project.

“We’ve got a window here,” Soglin said. “If we have not budgeted and made our commitment [to building the market] to the USDA, the economic development funds that may be available to public markets will not be relevant to us.”

The Common Council scheduled meetings Wednesday and Thursday to vote on the issues.

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