1999 DMNA Letter to Mayor

Letter to Mayor Bauman Detailing DMNA's Official Position
on Southwest Commuter Bicycle Path
July 21, 1999
Dear Mayor Bauman,
I enclose a document detailing the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association's official position on the Southwest Commuter Bicycle path. This represents a year-long process of public neighborhood meetings of the DMNA Rail Corridor Conversion Committee chaired by Paul Beckett. Quite a number of Regent Neighborhood residents, in addition to many members of our association, have had a voice in creating this document. The DMNA Transportation Committee, chaired by Ann Clark, also had an opportunity to review and comment. The full DMNA council reviewed and unanimously adopted the enclosed document on July 14, 1999.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the assistance given us by Christy Bachman of city staff, and by Tony Fernandez, lead design engineer for Earthtech in charge of the rail conversion.
I want to call your attention in particular to the strong emphasis on aesthetics placed by the future users of this trail. We feel this attention to aesthetic detail must pervade the project, even to the name. There is nothing inviting in the name "Southwest Commuter". As the enclosed picture demonstrates, the Capitol Dome is perfectly framed by the arch of the Spooner Street Bridge. For this reason we would like to suggest that consideration be given to changing the name of the trail to "Capitol View Trail".
Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this vital upgrade to the livability of Madison!
William W. Barker
President, DMNA

DUDGEON-MONROE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION Positions on the Southwest Bicycle-Pedestrian Path
A. Adoption
The following statement was formulated and recommended by the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association (DMNA) Rail Corridor Committee at its meeting of July 6, 1999 and was unanimously adopted by the DMNA Council at its meeting of July 14, 1999.
B. Preamble
DMNA strongly supports the conversion of the rail corridor bordering our neighborhood to a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path, as recommended by the mayor's committee for the design of the southwest commuter bike and pedestrian path. The path represents a laudable step toward reducing car traffic congestion by encouraging and facilitating alternative transportation. For residents of our neighborhood (as for the community as a whole) the path will provide welcome new commuting and recreational opportunities. We think that the path will represent an enhancement to the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood and will strength our sense of community.
DMNA feels that it is important that Madison seize this opportunity to create a path that is more than a pavement strip. The rail corridor represents a community natural resource, and the aesthetic, ecological and recreational opportunities need to be part of our planning along with the more obvious transportation aspects. And, as we design and construct the path, we should minimize negative aspects to residents who live close to the path.
To help realize these goals DMNA has created a committee for the path to consult within the neighborhood, and to work with city and planning agencies, to help make the completed path one in which we all will take pride. We hope that other neighborhoods touched by the path will want to join in an active long-term friends organization to support, improve and maintain the path as an important community asset.
During the present planning stage, and the construction phase expected next spring and summer, DMNA and its rail corridor committee would like to assist in any way we can. Our association could consider cost-sharing financial contributions for enhancements that cannot be included in the project budget. Our residents can contribute expertise in a variety of areas, and can contribute in providing volunteer labor to improve the path.
Our rail corridor committee, and the DMNA Council, after extensive consultation within our neighborhood have adopted eleven important principles that we feel should guide planning and construction. These are provided below.
C. DMNA Recommendations on Issues
1. DMNA regards as essential the recommendation of the Mayor's Committee that engineering/design and construction of the path be managed to minimize inconvenience, loss of privacy, damage to vegetation and landscaping, etc., for residents whose property abuts the rail corridor.
2. In keeping with 1., DMNA strongly urges the City's commitment to the principles of flexibility in design that were intended by the Mayor's Committee. In particular, DMNA urges a commitment to flexibility in the width of the area to be graded as part of construction, and in the width of shoulders between the paved path and the edge of construction. These may be five feet (on each side) where space is conveniently available. However, in closely settled areas where houses are extremely close to the corridor, shoulders should be two feet to minimize damage to neighbors' landscaping, and to their enjoyment of their property.* As indicated in the Preamble, we think that DMNA, and its rail corridor committee, can assist the planning process, and help assure an outcome that will please all concerned. As promised in the Mayor's Committee report, it is important to consult intensively with nearby neighbors and to accommodate their concerns as much as possible.
3. Trees adjoining the developed area which provide shade and privacy to neighbors should be spared so far as construction and safety considerations permit.
4. The bridge over the overpass at Hillington Green should be built of wood with wooden railings (not concrete and chain link), in keeping with the wooden pilings and local sandstone underneath and with the traditional quality of the neighborhood. As stated in the Mayor's Committee report, the historic underpass should be preserved.
5. Banks and ditches should be cleaned up (refuse, trees and brush from previous cuttings) as part of the construction process (if it starts clean it will be much easier to keep clean).
6. The aesthetic and recreational aspects of the path should have a claim on project funding along with "core" items. This could include benches, stopping points, drinking fountains, and attractive informational signage. We recommend development of a "wayside" at Glenwood Children's Park. Our neighborhood association is willing to work with the city to accomplish this, including volunteer work by our residents.
7. The City should work with interested neighbors to restore and preserve native plant species at the borders of the path. A volunteer group has already been formed to work with planners and the city to preserve and improve vegetation on the corridor and its borders. This project should be taken as an opportunity to control invasive plants (e.g., Japanese bamboo and garlic mustard) which are aggressively spreading from the corridor into woods and yards, and are rapidly choking out desirable native plants. Again, our Association, and our members, stand ready to help.
8. With regard to winter maintenance, the city should look for a solution that accommodates both bikers and skiers. No salt should be used for winter maintenance. Salt will be incompatible with native plantings, will wash into abutting gardens, and will contribute to lake pollution.
9. There should be no nighttime lighting in the DMNA section except as required for safety at street intersections, access points, and under bridges. Nearby neighbors should be consulted on the need for lighting and type of lighting.
10. The multi-use character of the path once completed must be respected. It is important that different user groups respect the uses and enjoyments of other groups. For instance, bicyclists should not ride so fast as to alarm or endanger other users. Pedestrians should not block the path for bicyclists. Dog walkers should keep their pets on leash and carry waste away. Effective signage reminding all users to observe such principles of civility and community should be provided for in the project budget. Our rail corridor Committee will be happy to work with the city in suggesting principles for use and in designing signage.
11. The Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association strongly supports the principle of providing adequate access points along the bicycle/pedestrian path, using publicly-owned land, so that all possible potential users will be able to walk or bike conveniently to the trail, and to use it easily for commuting, shopping and recreation.
We believe that providing many access points will serve to minimize the impact on any one location, and that denying access in an obviously needed location will usually be thwarted anyway by pedestrians and bikers who can easily make trails or use existing footpaths. Such ad hoc undeveloped access points are likely to raise safety and environmental concerns.
Selection of access points to be developed should meet the needs of path users and of the larger community but also should minimize the impact on nearby residents. Fairness calls for uniform application of criteria of need and practicability as the potential access points along the whole length of the path are considered and evaluated.
Intensive consultation with residents is important. Particularly important and urgent (in our neighborhood) is an effectively-noticed public consultation with residents on access points in the stretch of path between commonwealth avenue and the crossing between Virginia Terrace and Sheldon-Fox.
* [FOOTNOTE TO POINT 2:] Special circumstances requiring flexibility in relation to such factors as topography, house placement, trees and landscaping exist at various points along the corridor. But our Committee is especially concerned about the portion of the path between Commonwealth and the crossing between Virginia Terrace and Sheldon-Fox. In this stretch a number of houses are extremely close to the rail corridor and the potential impacts on residents are consequently particularly great.