Schumacher: 'I have the right to request reconsideration.'
The Madison Common Council could be in for another all-night session on the $93-million Edgewater Hotel expansion project.
At its Dec. 15 meeting, the council heard hours of public comment on the project and then debated for hours before voting, just before 5:30 a.m. the next day, not to overturn a Landmarks Commission denial of the project, proposed by Hammes Sports and Entertainment Co. The council needed 14 votes to overturn the Landmarks decision, but mustered only 12, with alders Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mike Verveer, Lauren Cnare, Brian Solomon and Marsha Rummel all voting against overturning.
But three members were absent, including Ald. Michael Schumacher, who has asked council to reconsider its decision. Eleven votes are needed for council to reconsider the matter and then 14 votes to overturn the Landmarks' decision. Also absent from the Dec. 15 meeting were alders Thuy Pham-Remmele and Judy Compton; both are generally supportive of business projects but have not indicated how they'll vote. The full council is expected for the Jan. 5 meeting.
More than 100 people spoke at the Dec. 15 meeting; it's not known how many will want to put in their two cents next Tuesday. Anyone who registers to speak will have a chance, but the council will likely limit comments to three minutes per person, not five as before. And some who spoke on Dec. 15 may feel that their views have already been heard; hope springs eternal.
Schumacher is hopeful the council will approve revisiting the matter, and isn't daunted by the prospect of another all-nighter.
"If other council members don't want to go through it and don't feel it's important enough, they can turn down the reconsideration," he says. "I have the right to request reconsideration, other alders have the right to deny it. This is straight-forward democracy."
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has been a robust supporter of the project and council leadership has been pushing to keep the it alive. Says Council President Tim Bruer, "We are working right now to breath some new life into the Edgewater project."
Bruer met with representatives from Hammes last week and says the project is now seen by the company as more of a long-shot. He says Hammes had lumped the project with several others around the country to secure financing. "Now that that door has been slammed," Bruer says, "This project is a stand alone competing with hundreds of projects nationally with only a handful of banks able to finance a project of this scale."
But, Bruer says, city officials have "spent countless hours working toward putting this train back on the track and there have been numerous pleas to the Hammes company to move it forward in spite of the uncertainties of the credit market."