Officials struggle to solve Tree Lane apartment issues after more than 200 police calls

Officials struggle to solve Tree Lane apartment issues after more than 200 police calls

The Tree Lane Family Apartments opened only five months ago and police have already been called to the building more than 200 times.

The constant police presence at the building for formerly homeless families has some who live and work nearby fearing for their lives.

It’s a quiet Tuesday at Tree Lane Family Apartments. There aren’t any sirens or squad cars or shouting at the west side building.

This is a welcome change for nearby small business owner Sherry, who was afraid to give her last name.

“We’ve noticed police calls happening on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times in a day.”

On Monday, Sherry had to make another police call, this time because of a car theft. Four young men sped into her parking lot, ditched a vehicle, and took off running toward the Tree Lane Family Apartments. Some of Sherry’s clients and co-workers are considering leaving.

“Some of the people who work here have become more nervous and on guard and more afraid to walk to their cars by themselves,” Sherry said.

“I’ve been working here 24 years and I’ve never been scared to come to work before, but now I am,” Sherry said, through tears.

Alderman Paul Skidmore, whose district houses the apartments, says building management (Heartland Housing) has failed to provide any semblance of security. According to Skidmore, visitors can come and go as they please, which leads to most of the problems.

“This neighborhood does not have confidence in Heartland or the project, and now Heartland is going to be in a rebuilding phase,” Skidmore said.

In response to the rash of incidents, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin took the extraordinary step of installing Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes as an emergency site manager of sorts.

“She can collect information, give advice to Heartland management when appropriate, and provide me and city council her insights,” Soglin explained.

Heartland Housing issued a statement saying it is looking forward to working closely with Reyes.

Reyes will head a safety team that has its first meeting on Wednesday. She hopes to have a recommendation for the mayor with the necessary next steps in the next few weeks.

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