Monona Mayor Bob Miller has been on the job for about half a year now. We thought we’d check in with Mayor Bob and have a short Q&A. We thank Mayor Miller for participating. Please note that all responses are unedited. We compliment Bob on his ability to spell/use spellcheck. Well done.
Question: With regard to your position as mayor, what has surprised you the most about the job?
There haven’t been any major surprises. A pleasant aspect of the position has been how friendly and responsive people are to you. Anywhere I go in Monona people go out of their way to chat with the mayor.
Q: What’s the status of the Monona Drive construction?
Phase II is completely designed and we are about 82% through the right-of-way acquisition process. The acquisition process should be done in the next month or so. Phase III is nearly designed and we will begin land acquisition in December for a spring 2013 construction start.
Q: Aside from the road construction on Monona Drive, what things will the city be doing to improve the road? What are some things we aren’t doing that you’d like see done?
Most improvements are for safety of the drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. We are also working on the aesthetics similar to Phase I. Phase I recently was awarded a national gold medal by the American Concrete Pavement Association along with a state award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. I would have liked to see concrete paving used through all three phases but Phase II will be asphalt due to cost considerations.
Q: Who is the best smelling alderman on the council?
Generally, the council is seems to have a mix of Brut and Grey Flannel with an occasional waft of Axe for Men.
Q: Will we ever get a brewpub on or near Monona Drive?
I sure hope so, or at least a tavern of the style of the Malt House. As an investor in the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co., I am often asked about a Monona Great Dane. There are currently no plans for a Great Dane as we are allowed by law to only have one more in the state of Wisconsin. I am aware of several possible restaurants that are looking at Monona and may fit the bill. Cross your fingers.
Q: What is the thing Monona really needs to do – but finances just won’t allow?
The fire department could really use a new and better located station. I want to work with the department to begin the process of determining where is the best location and the type of facility that best suits the city’s fire safety needs. The current fire station’s location is far less than ideal situated next to an elementary school, park and library. The downhill curve of Nichols Road can be dangerous for emergency vehicles leaving the station also.
Q: What’s the best thing Monona is working on or will be working on that no one really knows about?
I am not in a position to share information about all commercial developments but can say there are at least a half dozen opportunities currently being considered for Monona. (And no, Nichols School is not one of them.)
Q: Will the urinal in the Fireman’s Park bathroom really be made of solid gold?
Nothing but the best for our park users. Seriously, I recently appointed an ad hoc facilities committee made up of Monona engineering and construction professionals to help guide the city and our other committees and departments to make fiscally prudent design and facility decisions.
Q: What’s the best thing about being mayor?
Easily, the best thing is making new friends in the community. I thought I knew a lot of people before being elected mayor, but I have greatly expanded my friendships and contacts since the election.
Q: How did your Sunday morning sessions at the Farmers Market work out? Will you them continue next year?
The Farmer’s Market mayor’s office turned into a much busier event than I ever expected. What was intended to be an occasional meeting for an hour or two turned into every Sunday from 10 to noon from April through October. I missed a couple weekends in July because of vacation and returned to letters, phone calls and emails from people telling me in no certain terms to get back to the Sunday office. When the media picked up on the story, many more more people began to come out to join me. Here is a link to the Channel 3 story about the mayor with the best office in Dane County. http://www.channel3000.com/localvideo/index.html?v=36473
Q: What’s your favorite candy bar?
I have always enjoyed Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Q: What will be the big issues in next spring’s city council and school board elections?
A lot can happen between now and April so I am cautious to forecast the big issues. For the city council, the challenge will continue to be how to provide the best services residents can and should expect in a financially prudent manner. I do not envy the Monona Grove school board members who will again face daunting budget constraints next year and face even greater cuts than this year. I am concerned about the long term effects of these continued cuts and their impact on our children and community. I would expect to hear discussions about a possible referendum as part of the spring school board elections.