TIF slush fun for the mayor

The proposed extension of the TIF zone (tax incremental finance zone) continues forward. Proposed maps, project list, meeting minutes & videos indicate the oddly shaped zone, which is connected by only a sliver of land along the railroad incline, appears not so much for "economic development" but rather to shuffle funding from the existing zone to downtown proposed projects (or pipe dreams depending on ones view). The word being tossed about to describe the TIF expansion is "SCAM".

The list of projects includes investing in renovation of the Cotton Mill which currently houses an abundant array of rodents,transient homeless & the occasional meth lab. The Cotton Mill was once ex-mayor Al Huntingtons pet project that collapsed when his hand picked developer stripped the building of valuable old timber, abandoned the property & "took the money & ran".

The tack factory on the west end near first street & the Heritage Trail is also targeted as a possible recipient for free tax dollars. The factory is a brownfield site -currently contaminated with cyanide- which may or may not have been re-mediated (cleaned-up). The housing project is more honestly described as as multi-unit, low income housing. I have no idea if the city, stellar folks or TIF board bothered to reach out & accept neighborhood feedback.

The new police station will be in the proposed expanded zone. Maybe the city can use TIF tax dollars to compensate for their poor decision making regarding relocating the department to an overpriced, poorly maintained structure that is already several hundreds of thousands over budget.

The south end of the proposed trail connector is included in the zone- just in case people do not want to walk the tree lined paths that lead to waterfalls at Clifty Park or stroll lovely Big Oaks Wildlife Refuge and instead prefer to stroll along 421 capturing the beauty of speeding cars & concrete roadway along with the occasional overgrown weeds in the median. In addition the "trail" proudly includes several city streets & sidewalks on the hilltop providing outstanding views of some of Madison's most stunning moderate & low income houses & magnificent hikes across busy city intersections. Of course the property owners at the north end of Hatcher Hill have asked that trail hikers not park in their front yards or drive. To solve that problem the trail planners opted to restrict parking to the south entrance only - where again, you get a great view of concrete, streets & low income homes while strolling along beautiful highway 421 & meandering down Mulberry Street. Along the way a great rest stop could be one of Madison's most desirable entertainment destinations the Central Bar & Hotel. If you are exhausted from your "trailing" you can even rent a sleeping room for the night, week & I am told even hour. I believe they have showers down the hall.

Main Street from Broadway to Walnut Street is included, presumably to fund 2nd &3d floor renovations of downtown business properties for apartments (Huntington attempted the rehab idea his last term awarding funds to some of his better friends & supporters) or perhaps facade improvements especially along the scenic Mulberry trail street. However, one of the largest concentration of downtown historic residences & building is also included - possibly so elected officials can establish a program to fund home owner improvements/neighborhood improvements under the guise of economic development with the usual statement that the historic district is a huge tourist attraction. I've also told the moon is made of cheese.

Although not part of the tourist district Walnut Street has been included in the proposed expansion possibly to fund the "underground railroad" park. The less than 20 committed supporters & even fewer donors have a strong passion to see a bust honoring a local underground railroad activist erected in a grassy contaminated field in one of Madison's most unstable & poorest neighborhoods. Those few organizers have decided their passion should be converted to your public obligation. The plan is for the city to "take over" the "park" & its grassy field, locked gates & memorial bust and for taxpayers to add the "underground railroad" park to tax dollar obligations. Or the city might use your tax dollars for cleaning up the Walnut St area with nice sidewalks (home owners wont have to pay like you did), new street lights & possibly even attractive banners with pictures of a bust on them.

I have no idea what economic development plans they have for the 10 foot or so wide sliver running the incline to connect the hilltop TIF & downtown TIF. Perhaps they wish to create a very narrow, shovel ready industrial park with no real access to interstate, or for that matter any road at all.

More later...