This has been another busy quarter for your Mayor and Council. We have approved a number of projects and started on those that were previously approved. You have started to see road improvements within the heart of our City. Hughes Road was repaved from Millsford (near the Wellington subdivision) to just shy of Highway 72. MORE TO COME! I am christening 2020 the Year of the Orange Barrel!
Mayor Finley Updates
Weekly Update July 14-31
Hope everyone has had a great weekend. I know many of you have been to one of the many Apollo 11 celebrations….very, very cool to live in an area so deeply entrenched in the missions success.
Time to get back into the swing of sharing some of the major high lights from the week. Some of them were;
· A meeting to discuss the upcoming SRO contract with the schools was held to finalize our scope of work. Our 11 SRO’s (12% of the uniformed MPD team) have attended additional training and along with our crossing guard team will again help to keep our Madison City Schools safe.
· Our Court team opened 129 new cases last week while closing 121.
· Public Works finished another sidewalk project (Balch and Kentucky).
· Public Works, Recreation, and County Commissioner Haraway have finalized the dirt work at Palmer Park and will now do a little more at the Bradford Creek Trailhead before both projects are bid in early fall.
· The Dublin Park walking path/parking project is planned to begin construction on Monday, July 22, 2019. The main road between soccer fields 2 – 5 will be closed during this time. The Ashley entrance to the park will be open to allow access to the Kids Kingdom area and soccer fields 6-9.
· The Air Structure Storage Building is nearing completion.
· The Senior Center hosted “Christmas in July” bingo this week. Winners received Christmas related prizes.
· Our MPD team led by Captain Cook and Officer Teresa Taylor Duncan conducted Neighborhood Watch Kick-off event with 25 attendees
· Chick-fil-a on Hwy 72 hosted Coffee with a Cop. Chief Jernigan, Captain Cook, Corporal Townsend, Officer Teresa Taylor- Duncan, and Officers Wooden talked with many residents.
· Our Building Department team conducted 130 inspections, Code Enforcement had 82 re-inspections and picked up 25 signs. The Permitting staff created 100 permits and issued 99 of them.
· The 3rd of 3 listening meetings was conducted by the Madison Visionary Partners (MVP).
· Madison participated in a regional Metropolitan Planning Organization work session meeting, discussing short term road projects through 2024 and then longer term opportunities as well.
· Planning and Engineering met with the School architects to discuss all ingress/egress options for the possible new middle and elementary schools.
Thanks to everyone for your continued focus on our citizens and the community. There is no question we are making a positive impact…..!
Let’s have a great week,
Weekly Update July 22-August 4
It has been a busy couple of weeks in the City of Madison….here are a few of the high lights;
· While the Three Springs escape was not a high light the immediate response and quick capture by our Madison Police Department was something to be proud of. We are so appreciative of MPD and all they do each and every day to keep our community safe!
· The Dublin Park parking/walking path project has begun. Weather permitting, the contractor communicated they should have the project completed by mid-September. This will make a very positive impact on safety at Dublin.
· Recreation reports that Summer Day Camp has been a huge success, typically running with 65-70 kids each day.
· The City finalized our contract with our Madison City Schools to supply SRO’s and Crossing Guards again this year. The City of Madison is again supporting the schools with over $500,000 of support….very proud of our commitment in helping to keep our kids safe!
· Court finalized a work release program contract with the County.
· The Committee of 100 led a Regional Collaboration Meeting and commitment signing where Madison along with other cities and counties agreed to work together on areas of mutual focus. One of the first projects they are looking to impact is the Singing River Trail, a multi-use path that would run throughout Madison, Limestone, and Morgan counties.
· Our Madison Chamber of Commerce held their Business and Kid’s Expo at the Hogan YMCA. Multiple city departments including Recreation, Fire, Police, Engineering, Council, and Mayor’s office supported this community event.
· In addition to the Business Expo the Chamber rolled out a new health benefits program for chamber members that is tailored to small and mid-sized businesses and partnered with the Madison City Schools Council of PTAs to offer the first ever coupon sheets to all new and renewing PTA members
· Total sales tax collections for the month of July, 2019 were up 9.38% over collections for the month of July, 2018 and year to date collections are up 8.07% over the same period last fiscal year.
· Breweries & liquor stores sales tax revenues are up substantially in July, 2019 versus July, 2018 due to a large remittance. Deputy Revenue Officer Lindsey Jacks has identified several breweries or liquor stores that were only charging and collecting the city 12% liquor tax on liquor sales and were not charging and collecting the 3 ½% City of Madison sales tax on those liquor sales. Thanks to Revenue for their continued proactivity when it comes to sales tax.
· Our Public Works team continues to make significant progress on their sidewalk projects on Hughes Road, Palmer Road, and Gillespie Road.
· Captain Wilkerson, Corporal Townsend, School Resource Officers and Madison Fire conducted an Active Shooter Training exercise at Rainbow Elementary
· Chief Brandy Williams gave a brief presentation to the Madison City Schools Principals about 3rd grade workbooks and Virtual Reality for this upcoming school year.
· This week will be the last full week of operation at the Dublin Park outdoor pool. The pool will now be open on weekends only until Labor Day.
· We held a ribbon cutting for the new Home 2 Suites hotel located at Wall Triana and 565. They reported their first month has been extremely successful!
· We opened bids for the Sullivan Street 5-laning project. The bids were “in the ballpark” of what we had projected and we will now wait until next Wednesday for the Hughes Road 5-laning bid to better understand our path forward.
Thanks again to everyone for a great Summer of 19. We accomplished a great deal and I am proud of our City of Madison team. School starts next week…..enjoy your weekend!
Weekly Update August 5-18
What a busy yet productive two weeks. School is back in session and football is just around the corner.
Here are just a few of the activities and high lights from our collective team;
· Our City Council approved three major CIP projects, investing over $13 million dollars in two road projects (Hughes Road and Sullivan Street) and one sidewalk project along Wall Triana.
· 2019-2020 budgets are in and we are busy rolling everything up to get to our Finance Committee soon. Thanks to everyone who invested your time in preparing budgets…!
· I met with the Executive Team from Mazda to discuss several aspects of the upcoming plant. They continue to add folks to their Madison Blvd. location and as you would expect most of the Executive Team with children are trying to locate in Madison.
· Speaking of our Madison City Schools NICHE just released their findings that MCS is ranked 2nd in the State and 46th out of 10,782 in the nation. That sure isn’t going to help us slow down growth…simply “WOW” numbers!!
· Recreation is dealing with a busted laterally water line at the Dublin Park indoor pool. Pool will be down for 2-3 weeks while this is repaired.
· Our Madison Fire & Rescue, along with MPD, accomplished a very difficult extraction of a resident off of Rainbow Mountain. Great job guys……!
· I had the honor of representing Madison at the “5+5” Mayor’s meeting in Birmingham. Discussions centered on many state issues that we are monitoring including roads, revenues, communication, and other assorted areas.
· Many internal departments supported our Sequel/Three Springs public hearing last week. Based on Council’s decision we will now be working with Sequel, DYS, and DHR to close down this location.
· Our Madison Chamber conducted two ribbon cutting ceremonies for 8 different businesses. They continue to do a great job of promoting small businesses through events.
· Detective Adam Beasley was honored as the Investigator of the Year at the Back to Blue event for his combined investigative work on many cases…congratulations and well deserved!
· Public Works continues to shine, completing the Gillespie sidewalk (from Knotting Place to Emerson) and making significant progress on both Hughes Road and Palmer Road. The city is starting to notice the positive impact!
· After a “hard reset” the Tidewater team has done a much better job with facility and ROW grass cutting. Thanks to Marc Jacobson, Kent Smith, and Dustin Riddle for helping to rein this back in.
· Two major projects, our multi-use venue and the Sealy project both continue to move along at a fast pace. Mary Beth Broeren continues to manage these daily….absolutely no easy task!
I am so proud of our team and all that our 350+ employees do on a daily basis to positively impact our communities quality of life. Thanks to each and every one of you for all that you do….we are making a difference!
Let’s have a great week………..
Weekly Update August 19 – September 8
Taking a few minutes on this beautiful Sunday morning to document some of the high lights from the past couple of weeks.
· Our Palmer Park expansion project continues to move along with our final bid scheduled to open October 8th.
· Unfortunately we now have a second project at Palmer Park, the replacement of multiple light poles (and lights) at several of the fields. Thanks to Kory, Kelly, and staff for their proactive actions after we lost one pole in a storm. Better to know and replace now than find out with kids on the field later.
· Our team in Court continues to have busy weeks. The averages for the past three weeks are 118 cases open, 107 cases closed, 37 issued warrants, and $24,000 receipts collected. Thanks for all of the hard work Cheri and team!
· Revenue reports that total sales tax collections for the month of August, 2019 were up 14.56% over collections for the month of August, 2018 and year to date collections are up 8.66% over the same period last fiscal year. New businesses including Duluth Trading Company and Champy’s Chicken are helping to drive this.
· The 2019-2020 budget has been sent to the Finance Committee. Thanks again to everyone involved, I think it is our best budget to date!
· Melanie and her team in the City Clerk’s office have been working diligently getting ready for our September 10th (Tuesday) Property Tax Referendum. Thanks for all of your front end work to help make sure Tuesday goes smoothly.
· I had the opportunity to tape a segment for the upcoming Intergraph/Hexagon 50 year anniversary celebration October 3rd. Intergraph continues to be Madison’s #1 employer.
· I was interviewed by Katie Francis, the reigning Girl Scout Cookie Champion salesperson. And how many boxes of cookies did she sell you ask……22,200 in a year and for her entire time with the girl scouts she has sold over 135,000 boxes.
· Along with Council Woman Wroblewski I attended the Enrichment Center’s Community Impact Dinner. I am proud of our city for supporting this group as they work to supplement our schools with professional counselors.
· We continue to hear positive comments about the sidewalk and greenway connectivity improvements. Thanks to Marc Jacobson for leading this effort and to our Public Works team for their continued work on the city plan.
· The MPO moved up the Balch Road project, including the round-about, back into its originally planned year. Engineering is working with ALDOT to obtain a solid plan, including dates, going forward.
· We submitted for our first “gas tax $$” project to ALDOT. Our project is the redesign of the I-565/Wall Triana Intersection.
· I enjoyed my opportunity to speak at our Senior Center last Wednesday. It was great to be able to share all of the positive things that we are accomplishing for our citizens….they were very complimentary of Vickie and her team!
· We had a very productive meeting between the Executive Directors and Board of the Madison Chamber and Madison Visionary Partners. These two groups are looking to accomplish as much as they can for the city with the appropriations they will receive.
Thanks for all that you continue to do for our city and citizens. We are making such a positive impact and I am proud to be doing it with you.
Let’s have a great week!
Wall Triana Multi-Use Path
On August 12, in a 6-1 vote the Wall Triana Multi-Use Path was approved by Council. According to our Engineering Department, construction should start in the next 6-8 weeks. Completion time is 12 to 18 months. As mentioned previously, the path will be on the west side of Wall Triana from the Browns Ferry intersection (across from Kroger) north to the corner of Gillespie. The path will be asphalt, approximately 8′ wide and will also use the existing path. Wall Triana will not be closed during construction but there may be areas that will be temporally one lane with construction crews present so please use caution.
Also on August 12, in a unanimous Council vote we approved widening and repaving for Hughes Road from Plaza Drive north to Millsford (to the Wellington subdivision). Hughes Road will be widened to 5 lanes with two north bound and two south bound lanes and a merging lane in the center. Again, at no time will Hughes Road be closed so please use caution when construction crews are present.
Finally, on August 12 we unanimously approved the widening of Sullivan Street to 5 lanes from Spenryn (where the road currently narrows) to Kyser. There will also be an addition of three traffic lights during this stretch: West Dublin, Royal and Kyser. You may have seen building construction in this area. Here is a link to learn more: Sealy Plaza
Mill Creek Greenway Extension
As mentioned previously, the Mill Creek Greenway Expansion is moving forward. At the August 26th City Council meeting on the advice of Mayor and Staff Council voted not to accept the grant. It was determined that we will be able to construct the Greenway extension less expensively and more quickly if we don’t have the Grant staff overseeing the project. The Greenway is still moving forward with this portion being completed within the 2020 fiscal year. This will start the Greenway from the parking lot across from the dog park to the parking lot between the Oakstone and Foxfield subdivisions. The next portion will continue from the parking lot north and will wind between the Foxfield and Oakstone subdivisions and continue between the Park Meadow and Bridgefield subdivision ending near Wall Triana. You can read more about it here: Singing River Trail. You can also jump right to the proposed path here: Singing River Trail Map
Balch Gillespie Roundabout
The Balch/Gillespie Roundabout continues to be a topic of discussion. Along with everyone else I am extremely frustrated by the slow pace of play and delaying by ALDOT of this critical project. The latest report received recently is that the start date has been brought back to 2020. This delay by MPO and ALDOT is excruciatingly painful and agonizing as our traffic counts have increased tremendously since this project was first explored many years ago.
Sequel TSI of Madison
As most are aware, Council held a Public Hearing on August 14th to decide on the status on whether or not to revoke the Three Springs business license. Three Springs is a juvenile detention facility on Browns Ferry in District 1. In a unanimous decision, Council voted to revoke their license. They had seven days to remove the juveniles and it has been widely reported that has been completed. Each Council person spoke after both attorneys and the public. Here are my remarks in their entirety:
I would like to begin by thanking those in attendance for being here tonight and especially to those of you who shared your concerns during the public comments portion of the Public Hearing. Thank you also to the many who sent emails to both Council and Mayor expressing your objections to Three Springs’ continued operation in Madison. Through email and voice you have spoken loudly and clearly.
It should not be lost on any of us that today, August 14th, is the two-year anniversary of the murder of Mr. Van Johnson, a resident of Riverdale, Georgia. Mr. Johnson was a 61 year-old contractor working the overnight shift at Publix Supermarket on County Line Road. Mr. Johnson was robbed, brutally murdered, and nearly decapitated by two escapees from Three Springs – all for just a few dollars and his cell phone.
In an effort to protect the residents of Madison and in response to public outcry, a few months after the murder, this Council sitting before you met to vote on the revocation of the Three Springs business license. After much discussion during the Public Hearing and deliberation in Executive Session, Council recommended a probationary period be granted whereby Three Springs would undergo an inspection by both MPD and a qualified security and detention facility representative. During that inspection several security lapses were identified and remedied by Three Springs. However, one security issue not corrected was the addition of a camera in the back-northwest corner near the basketball court. It is my understanding it was from that area the men who murdered Van Johnson escaped. Furthermore, during that first Public Hearing, Council asked Three Springs representatives about the demographics of those being held at the facility. We asked how many of the incarcerated were from Madison County and from the City of Madison specifically. The representatives did not know the answer, but assured Council they would provide us with that information. As a member of the Advisory Council, I can attest that, to date, that information has not been provided.
In the two years since the murder of Van Johnson, the escapes have continued. Just today Council learned of another escape in September of 2018. There was no Nixel, no notification in that escape.
In March of this year during a medical appointment at Madison Hospital an inmate escaped the custody of the Three Springs employee accompanying him. The inmate was found several hours later at the Waffle House on Hughes Road. It is not clear where he went or what he did during the time he was free.
Just a few weeks ago, three inmates escaped from the Three Springs facility during the evening hours at approximately 7:30 pm. MPD responded as soon as they were notified and immediately began patrolling the area surrounding the facility. Nearby residents in Walden were outside playing with their children or enjoying their evening walk when they were told to return to their homes immediately, lock their doors, and set their home alarms. MPD called in their second shift early to assist with the search. By the grace of God, an officer reporting for duty spotted the inmates while driving on Segers Road. I shudder to think what could have happened if the officer had left his home either a few minutes earlier or later. These escapees are desperate. It’s unlikely they have friends or family in this area, so their only option to elude capture is to rob and/or assault a Madison resident to obtain money, a cell phone, or a vehicle.
As I mentioned previously, at the first Public Hearing, in a 4-3 vote, the determination was made to give Three Springs a second chance. It is now clear that while those were good intentions, in my opinion, it was not in the best interest of those living nearby Three Springs specifically and those living in Madison generally. This facility resides in my District, District 1, but even if it did not, I feel very strongly this facility does not belong in Madison City limits surrounded by schools and residential neighborhoods.
When I consider what could have happened just a few weeks ago during the couple of hours those men were on the run, my blood runs cold. History tells us the murder of yet another innocent person is a real possibility, but there is another scenario to consider and that is one of the inmates could be killed by a Madison resident. I have no doubt some residents, especially in the surrounding neighborhoods of Walden and Heritage Station, are armed and ready to protect their families. There will be very little mercy for escapees and these residents may very well shoot to kill should they encounter an escapee from that facility. The current location of Three Springs is a danger not only to the residents of Madison, but to the very juveniles that are housed in this facility. It is my hope that these men can be relocated as soon as possible for the safety of all.
For more information and a concise statement: Sequal News Clip
I will be updating this post periodically during the quarter. As always, I can be reached at Email Maura or 256.337.2408. Thank you again for your continued support!