Residents in two Madison neighborhoods, dealing with crime and transportation problems, are asking for help from the Madison Common Council.
While students on the southeast side told the council Tuesday to approve a bus route extension to the Owl Creek neighborhood, Mayor Paul Soglin said a neighborhood center in the troubled southwest side Theresa Terrace community is a "high priority."
A group of LaFollette High School students from Owl Creek said they felt stuck and isolated, because there are no buses other than the ones they catch to and from school. They said they can't get to jobs or do after-school activities, and said they were envious of classmates with easy access to the bus.
"It makes me feel like they're more lucky than I am," said Julie Vue, a 17-year-old senior from the neighborhood. "I feel left out, -- they have more things to do, they can volunteer, they can do all this stuff."
Soglin, who has proposed the Owl Creek extension and service improvements on west side routes in his budget, said the additions aren't necessarily the reason for a contentious bus fare increase proposal.
"Even if we didn't make this extension of service into Owl Creek, I believe we'd still need the fare increase," Soglin said. "If we're really going to provide a good (transit) system, it has to be citywide."
Meanwhile, Soglin said he was prioritizing a request from Theresa Terrace neighbors to buy and renovate a vacant duplex on their block for a neighborhood center.
He estimated the total cost at $300,000 to $350,000, which the city council would need to approve during a scheduled Nov. 13 budget vote.
"You have to go through ups and downs to get to where you want to be, but I think if they bring the community center over here, it'll bring the community together," said Lolita Davis, who lives in the Theresa Terrace area and said there's nothing for kids to do when they get out of school.
The neighborhood's alder, Matt Phair, co-sponsored a plan along with Soglin and adjacent Ald. Lisa Subeck on a purchase agreement with the duplex's current owner.
Phair said the budget as proposed includes $2 million for neighborhood centers, which Soglin said is enough for three new neighborhood centers.
The city is also considering putting centers in the McKenna Boulevard and Brentwood Parkway communities, Soglin said.