The proposal to place a beer garden next the Olbrich Park beach house is speeding through city hall (“Brewhaha,” 12/15/2016; see also article on page 6). Neighborhood residents and park users have concerns about noise pollution, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, parking and shared restroom capacity.
Revenues benefit three private investors. The city receives very little in return and could lose money. There has been no adequate cost/benefit analysis. Madison police and park rangers’ costs will rise. The investors want the city to share the cost of electrical upgrades that are unnecessary for beach usage. The Parks Division recently underestimated the costs of an addition to Central Park by $2 million. What unexpected costs will the taxpayers ultimately pay to have a privately operated beer garden in a public park?
Alcohol was banned from Olbrich Park in 2015. Pricey craft beers will be sold only to those able to afford them. Other park users fishing, shooting hoops, throwing Frisbees and playing volleyball will not be able to bring in more affordable beer. When open daily, this public space will be only be available to adults 21 and over, and to minors accompanied by a spouse, legal guardian or parent (no other relatives).
Please contact your alderperson ASAP. Common Council votes March 7. Ask them to vote no. Suggest the city have a trial run with a pop-up beer garden traveling between several parks. In Milwaukee, a local brewery truck travels to county parks. The shared revenue helps maintain parks.
Pauline Gilbertson (via email)
Stand up and fight
Since Dave Cieslewicz wrote his article belittling the largest nationwide demonstration is U.S. history, a lot has happened (“Nothing’s Happening Here,” 2/2/2017). All across the nation, people are packing congressional town hall meetings. As a result, scheduled Republican town hall meetings are down 84 percent from 2015 because they’re afraid of their own constituents. A White House petition to see Trump’s tax records garnered more signatures than any other White House petition in history. People are getting engaged and getting organized. All of this is a necessary part of reclaiming our democracy and protecting human rights.
Cieslewicz argues that this does nothing to advance “liberal” causes. Cieslewicz, like many Democrats, misses the point. These marches, these town hall meetings, these actions aren’t about “expanding the base” or to “win back blue-collar voters” (all his words). They are about average people standing up for human rights, like access to health care, access to education, clean environment and representative government. These actions, the Women’s March in particular, were about drawing a line in the sand, and saying “We will fight.”
The battle will be fought on many fronts: the ballot box, the courts and the street. Maybe Cieslewicz and Democratic politicians should be standing with us and work to harness this momentum instead of downplaying its importance. Demonstrations generate momentum and give voice to the voiceless. Resistance is the new normal. Get used to it.
Andrew Posselt (via email)
I much appreciated Elisa Wiseman’s fine cover story on the Odyssey Project, “A Life Worth Living” (2/23/2017). I’ve been a small part of the teaching staff since the program began and have found it to be the most enriching teaching experience of my life.
Ave’s story is quite moving — and emblematic of the over 400 students who have made this Odyssey over the last 14 years. In focusing on one student, however, I think we miss a crucial aspect of what makes Odyssey such a unique and uniquely valuable experience. The students, strangers the first night of class and from many cultures and backgrounds, become a community, even an extended family, and the class becomes a sanctuary as well as a place of exploration and learning.
Here there is no competition. We learn together and help each other. The goal is for every student who begins the journey to end it together on graduation night in May.
The journey doesn’t end there. Their new family will always be there for them.
We all leave the classroom each Wednesday night strengthened, renewed and rededicated. No matter what they will go on to do after graduation, they will be forever changed.
Marshall Cook (via email)
Many, many thanks to Pat Dillon for her excellent article on Patricia McConnell, “Calling All Survivors,” regarding sexual assault, dogs with issues and how it can all work out. It takes courage to speak up, and I so appreciate her putting herself out there in the light.
I was sexually assaulted as a young child, and it left a mark. Many years later, I traveled to New Orleans and brought myself back a stray dog that I named Nola. She came with a bunch of fears, and it was work. As I watched her heal and get strong, I did the same.
My heartfelt thanks to Nola and to Patricia.
Anne Walker (via email)
The cutline in last week’s opinion column misidentified Mark Pocan as Mike Pocan.