A new library has been proposed for Madison's northeast side. A few general areas were considered, during a Madison library staff-led planning process (with both good and highly questionable elements). The Reindahl Park area was rated somewhat higher than others..
An in-park site was not specified during this process. Furthermore, participants were not asked to consider a park-adjacent site. Additionally, it was not made clear to participants that Madison ordinances would prevent an in-park site from having housing overhead or retail as part of a mixed-use development.
Importantly, the most recent (2o13) master plan for Reindahl Park does not include a library
A previous library regional strategic plan, developed internally, had prioritized siting new libraries inside city parks, rather than in mixed-used developments on non-park sites. This was a change from siting of other recent libraries such as Sequoya and Pinney, which are in mixed-used developments that include housing.
In 2019, the library system's fixation on an in-park site (apparently south of the existing park shelter), became a rationale for routing a sewer pipe through Reindahl Woods, the park's only old growth stand. Over 36 mature and mostly arborist-rated "high value" trees were cut down. Subsequent pipe trenching to a depth of 25-45 feet has put eight old growth bur oaks and other mature/native park trees at risk. This was done despite a "Save Reindahl Woods" petition (with 268 signatories), and provision of realistic and sensible alternatives for re-routing the pipe.
While library and park staff continue to claim that nothing has been decided about the library siting, recent evidence indicates otherwise. This week the area alder announced that city engineering would in December be doing pre-construction soil borings across tens of acres in the middle of the 90-acre park, south of the existing spray/playground facilities and east all the way to East Washington Avenue.
We the petitioners demand that City of Madison staff provide a park-adjacent, mixed-use site option for the library (Imagination Center) proposed to be built in the Reindahl Park area. That option should include housing (low income to market rate) above, as with Pinney and Sequoya libraries. The park-adjacent option should allow comparison with other site options, for eco-equity consideration (including a 360-degree cost comparison). The option should explore all of the several parcels near the east side of Reindahl Park, and the potential advantages of city abandonment of Parkside Drive north of East Washington Avenue. This park-adjacent option, along with all other site options, must be provided for public consideration as part of the Reindahl Park master plan revision process. City engineering should not initiate soil boring until a site is identified. Last, given high PFAS levels in soil testing done for the sewer pipe, and in the muncipal well located in the park (Well #15), the city should test all such soil borings for PFAS.
The Reindahl Area Library+Housing Option petition to Madison area residents was written by Jon Becker and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.