Bike Routes, New Trails and Complete Streets
Last week, the Parks & Recreation Commission met and had a productive discussion around aspects of the City of Wisconsin Rapids Outdoor Recreation Plan approved in 2012. The plan reviewed our existing park and recreational system in the city. It also pointed to many recommendations to be considered. A few months ago, I suggested we dust off the plan and take a look at those recommendations. The two elements of focus at the meeting were the existing Ahdawagam trail system and a concept called “Complete Streets.”
Nature and recreation was identified as a top consideration by you our residents in the community-wide survey. Additionally, just last week, it was reported that Wisconsin climbed 5 spots to #3 in the rankings for most Bicycle Friendly States. This further evidences that recreational activity is a statewide focus and priority, as such, taking a look at past planning and considering future action is appropriate. Today, over 20 miles of trails or “routes” are designated throughout our city. However, the connectedness to our city parks is lacking and is ripe for improvement. The commission voted to consider additional recreational routes that connect to city parks and assets throughout the city. City staff will propose new routes at the next meeting.
Additionally, while the city today has both separate recreational trails and designated recreational routes, one way to accomplish new routes without actually building new trails is through “Complete Streets.” Complete Streets is a term used to describe roadways that are designed and operated to enable safe, convenient and comfortable access and travel for all users of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. There is no one design for a complete street, and it is likely that in traveling, you’ve seen numerous examples of the concept in other regions and municipalities. Given the diversity of the natural and built environment in Wisconsin Rapids, flexibility in accommodating different modes of travel is essential to balancing the needs of all users. An excellent example of a Complete Streets program in Wisconsin is in the City of La Crosse. In 2012 La Crosse passed a Complete Streets Ordinance and today all corridor projects are considered for incorporating the Complete Streets methodology. Wednesday’s meeting served as an introduction to the concepts and possibilities of implementing a Complete Streets program; It is my hope that a future meeting will further the discussion and possible adoption of the program for Wisconsin Rapids.
With the natural beauty of our City on the river, we are poised to be a destination for visitors, and further, a more attractive place for residents and future residents. The connectedness of existing trails and 8 city parks located along the banks of the Wisconsin River gives our City the potential for our recreational assets to be some of the best of any city around.
For more information on the Parks & Recreation Commission, including agendas and minutes, please visit this link.
Rapid Improvement Reporting
Last Wednesday, the City concluded its second round of Rapid Improvement training at which time another milestone was achieved- over 25% of our employees have been trained. This round included 19 trainees from 9 City Departments in learning the fundamentals of Lean Six Sigma,
equipping them with training in the concepts to be involved with improvement projects within the City. The trainees also worked on a new project during the training sessions examining the long grass/weeds enforcement process by Ordinance Control, with the goal of reducing or eliminating some of the many areas of delay in the system resulting in better customer satisfaction.
Finally, Wednesday’s class concluded by bringing together all of our current and past trainees for a “group report out” session where each group updated on where each of the current projects are at in the Improvement process. I am inspired and encouraged by each team’s commitment and progress in examining various city processes differently and their work to improve them. As I’ve said before, the essence of the Rapid Improvement initiative is continuous improvement. Projects will continue to be started and completed with varying degrees of impact. The steering team has scored employee-submitted projects to be worked on in the near future. Residents, too, may submit improvement projects for improvement by contacting me.
Where’s the Money?, Tribune Building Phase 2 and Speaking to 3rd & 4th Graders
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of joining area business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs for a “Where’s the Money?” program, sponsored by the North Central Community Action Program, NCCAP. This program was aimed at providing information to current and aspiring entrepreneurs alike interested in going into business or expanding their current business. I spoke on the City’s revolving loan fund and what criteria exist to qualify. I was pleased by the turnout of individuals in our area interested in learning more about what options are available for them to start their business in our community!
Also on Tuesday night was the first meeting of “Phase 2” of the Tribune Building process. That meeting saw another fantastic turnout of residents taking part in deciding design elements for all of the building’s spaces. Phase 2 meetings are planned to take place the last Tuesday of each month this summer. Mark your calendars for the next meeting May 27, 2014 and RSVP by visiting this link.
Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting with 3rd and 4th graders at Howe Elementary School on Friday. I spoke about City departments and what role they play in making many of the things they look forward to in the summer (i.e. pool, playgrounds, parks) run. The students,“If they were Mayor”, also shared ideas they had for park improvements and investments. As always, the students were full of questions and ideas! I appreciate invitations like these to ensure all people have direct access to their Mayor.
Parents Who Host Town Hall Meeting
This Wednesday, May 7 from 5:00-6:00PM, the Family Center will be hosting a town hall meeting on underage drinking and the Parents Who Host Lose the Most campaign. The meeting will take place at the Wood County Courthouse Auditorium and will include a panel of experts from the community that will take part in answering questions as well as sharing thoughts on solutions to a problem that cities all across the nation face. I look forward to hearing the feedback and ideas shared at this meeting.
Coffee with the Mayor
This Tuesday, May 6th, I invite you to join me at The Hotel Mead’s Cafe Mulino, from 8:00-9:00 AM. All are welcome to join me for all or just part of the time, for breakfast or coffee, so spread the word to friends and neighbors.
Thank you for reading,