St. Francis House Development approved

At about 1:15 this morning, Madison’s Common Council approved by a vote of 15-4 the redevelopment proposal for the St. Francis House property. It has been a long process, with a lot of passion and energy on both sides.

Later today, the really hard work will begin of rebuilding relationships with those who opposed the project and working with them to ensure that in the process of construction and after the buildings are completed, the concerns of our neighbors are heard, and problems addressed.

This was a completely new experience for me. I had never witnessed democracy in action on quite this level. I had never participated so directly in hearings and debates, nor watched, for a total of over 14 hours, city committees and the city council at work. I don’t know how they do it. Before coming to our items on the agenda, they had to deal with issues related to employees and firefighters’ benefits. Councillors had to put up with dozens of emails from us, countless conversations. They told of spending a day exploring every nook and cranny of Luther Memorial, or checking to see what the moped situation was like outside of Grand Central. They were thoughtful, open, and are dedicated both to the concerns of their constituents and to the city as a whole. With the budget crisis facing them, they were able to laugh with each other, and with us, as well. There was incredible tension in the room at times, and there were also moments of levity. I hope not to have to go through something like this again in the near future, or ever, for that matter, but it was exciting and educational.

I think I’ll go to bed after I finish this beer.

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