A lifelong resident of Madison, Tim Gruber, 41, is finishing his first term as Dist. 11 alderperson. During his tenure he has been a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Madison Arts Commission, UW Joint West Campus Committee and the ADA Transit Subcommittee.
Gruber received his Bachelor's degree in music education and his Master's degree in music performance from UW-Madison. He has been a music teacher at Shorewood Hills Elementary since 1990 and is a percussionist with Madison Marimba Quartet and Atimevu Drum and Dance.
A brief interview with Gruber follows.
The Daily Page: Development in Dist. 11, particularly around Hilldale and the Midvale Plaza site, is adding many new housing units and more retail space to the area. How would you define appropriate density?
Gruber: Higher density of dwelling units is appropriate where there are major streets such as Midvale Blvd. and University Avenue and where there are bus lines. I support the density levels suggested in the Comprehensive Plan for these locations of 20 to 40 units per acre. We need urban in-fill development that replaces parking lots with places that people can live, work, and shop within Dist. 11.
What kind of transit needs do you see in Madison, particularly for residents living and passing through your district? How do we get there?
We need improved bus service within the city and regional bus service. We need to look at other transit options as outlined in the Transport 2020 study.
Your support of the Midvale redevelopment upset a lot of your constituents and is actually one reason you're being challenged. Do you regret supporting this proposal?
No. I knew that some people would not be happy with my position in support of the redevelopment plans. However, if I had taken the opposite position, other people in the district would be unhappy. I support urban in-fill development and am opposed to sprawl.
I know that some people were unsatisfied with the process. I wasn't entirely happy with the process myself; it was a learning experience for me. However, in the end we ended up with much better development than was originally proposed. I think that residents will be pleasantly surprised with how the development works out, especially the new Sequoya Library.
You list one of your issues as "responsible land use." What does "responsible" mean for you and how is this achieved?
For me "responsible" means to make the best use of the land we have. This means supporting in-fill development, supporting new multi-story buildings, supporting mixed use, and preventing urban sprawl.
The state is proposing to rebuild the Department of Transportation building at Hills Farms, creating employment opportunities and residential diversity. How can your constituents get involved in this project? What development would you like to see?
My constituents are already involved. We had a meeting of representatives of area neighborhood associations in April 2006. We agreed on elements the project must have (keeping the site and employment center, storm water management, traffic study, green space, etc.) and elements it shouldn't (large surface parking lots, big box stores, etc.).
We had one neighborhood meeting already, and will have several others. The architects are listening to what the residents of the area have to say before they start drawing up plans.
I support keeping the Sheboygan Community Gardens on site, keeping the Westside Farmer's market on site, and improving the pedestrian connections.
A neighborhood planning council has been proposed for the west side. What is your vision of how the council would work? How should it be funded?
The planning council would be a way to bring people together from neighborhoods on the west side of Madison to work on issues of common interest.
I would like the planning council to work on promoting slower driving and yielding to pedestrians; updating the urban design guidelines for University Avenue; redesign of University Avenue including better pedestrian and bicycle access; review of development projects, and many other issues.
For now, it should be funded primarily through city money and grants. In the long term, I would like to see an endowment set up to provide funding for the planning council and community projects.