Wiganowsky: "We're looking at retirement."
Would Wiggies make a good homeless shelter? County Supv. David Wiganowsky thinks so. He was one of two people who submitted proposals for a permanent day shelter location.
The 3,730-square-foot bar and restaurant, located at 1901 Aberg Ave., would be a great homeless resource center, Wiganowsky says, since it's near Madison Metro's north transfer point and the Dane County Job Center. "We're looking at retirement," Wiganowsky adds. It's currently listed at $525,000. Sam Simon Real Estate, which made the proposal on Wiganowsky's behalf, admits the restaurant is a little smaller than the 5,000-to-10,000 square feet the county is looking for. But Sam Simon says it could be easily expanded, since it has a large parking lot.
The bar has drawn flack in recent years for violence.
Madison Area Rehabilitation Centers, Inc., also proposed its 11,500-square-foot building at 3939 Lien Road for the day shelter. The agency is currently having a new east side location built, says Russell King, executive director. King says the facility is ideal, because it has "showers, a kitchen, some large open rooms, some rooms we've been using for offices. There's a park right across the street for some open green space."
While sponsors of the these respective proposals herald their locations, those pushing for a permanent shelter were hoping to find a site downtown. "Those sites are outside what was the recommended area," says Lynn Green, director of Dane County Human Services. "That's something that's going to have to be discussed."
County Supv. Leland Pan, who sits on the Homeless Issues Committee, says locations outside the central city could still work.
"As long as there is transportation it could be workable," he says. "Downtown is the best, but sometimes downtown is filled to the brim with other things."
The county operated a day shelter last winter downtown at 827 E. Washington Ave. County Executive Joe Parisi promised that property's neighbor, the Rainbow Project, it would be there only for one year.
Only one entity, Shine608, submitted a proposal to run the day shelter. It is reportedly an agency run by Sarah Gillmore and Z! Haukeness, who were widely praised for how they operated the day shelter last year while working for Porchlight, one of Madison's main providers of homeless services. Gillmore could not be reached for comment.