Best New Building Construction - TIE - UWO Biodigester and Student Success Center.
The UWO Biodigester is a renewable energy facility that will produce heat and power generators, which will produce about 5 percent of the campus’s electricity and heating needs. The digester uses waste from food, agriculture and yards, capturing the gas produced from the breakdown of the plant-based material for energy production. This project, located just off of Witzel, received the support of the city's Sustainability Advisory Board, Plan Commission, and Common Council, and is slated to be completed in 2010/2011, with construction currently underway.
According to the UWO, the Student Success Center, located on Elmwood on campus, is a LEED certified project that will be "the largest state building to date to feature a geothermal heat field, which takes advantage of moderate temperatures in the earth to provide heat in the winter and coolant in the summer." LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a program that certifies a building's design and construction reflects a commitment to energy and water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Best New Environmental Policy - Stormwater Utility Credit
The city passed, without much attention or publicity, a stormwater credit policy that encourages residents with financial incentives to utilize rain barrels and rain gardens as an alternative to sending storm water into the stormsewer system. Of course, this makes great sense - naturally filtering water through your garden reduces the flow of pollutants into lakes, but also reduces the amount of municipally-treated water that homes spray onto their lawn and gardens out of the hose.
What is interesting about the council support of this measure is that several months back when the discussion surrounding the Menominee Park pump station was taking place, numerous folks called for a comprehensive water management program that included small actions that individuals could take. Take a look here at a detailed discussion of the subject. Several councilors scoffed at the idea that rain barrels and rain gardens matter in a storm water program, some going as far as laughing. This ignorant performance was quieted when city manager Rohloff confirmed the potential value of such measures. Unfortunately, the city proceeded without any real comprehensive plan or stormwater management ideas.
Special Duo Award: Worst Construction and Worst Environmental Policy: Menominee Park Pump Station
If you want to learn about Oshkosh history, discover the depth of Wisconsin beer, or learn about what specialty beers are accessible throughout our city, Oshkosh Beer is the finest resource available. Well done to Lee and his passion for beer. May my to-be-planted hops be involved in future Oshkosh Beer history.
Most Productive Blog: Main Street Oshkosh.
While giving yourself an award is pretty lame, it is something of note to see that http://www.mainstreetoshkosh.com/ will have 243 posts in the year of 2010.
Best Ride of 2010: Hybrid Electric Buses
Best Display of Maturity and Acceptance: City's support and council acceptance of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque.
The city supported and the council accepted the use of a facility near Oshkosh West High for religious practice by a local Muslim community. While almost any other religious institution looking to create a place of worship would not have made the news, our community did well in remaining civil and respectful in a excessively publicized process to determine appropriateness. In the end, civility and reason won. Well done to everyone involved!
The Slow Down Award: Smaller lanes on Main Street.
City folks have complained in the recent months about how slow they need to drive on Main Street because of the small lanes and close driving to people and other vehicles. Our short response: YES!! Our somewhat more lengthy response: Of course you idiot, this is a pedestrian commercial area intended to encourage heavy foot traffic to support local business. Slow down. Trade your ride for a bike or long board, and enjoy the beautiful new downtown!
New Event of the Year: Oktoberfest
After noticing the potential to blitz and be cracked back, only to re-crack on the support of black jacks, this event would have been a great hit had the weather endorsed the event. Despite the small set back, this theme and Oshkosh Oktoberfest are destined to become an Oshkosh tradition. Beer, music, food, and cards. That is 80% of the Oshkosh summer. Add in the fact that its on the water at the leach and there is another 15%.
Best New Store: Habitat ReStore
This is just good all around: ReUsing a building; selling ReUsed or UnUsed building stuff, to support ReDevelopment of inner-city land for home-ownership. I like it. (BTW - located at 1640 S Koeller)
Most Valuable New Community Program: Oshkosh Community Bike Program
Fixing up bikes to provide kids in need with bicycle transportation is great. Providing an outlet for teens to give back to their community by fixing up the bikes makes it even better. Promoting bicycling and safety is just outstanding. Well done to Steve and his crew!!
Most Important 2010 Community Agency: Oshkosh Community Foundation
While there are numerous agencies that provide important services to our community, probably no other agency approached the level of publicity and celebration as did OCF. Projects including a $25,000 downtown beautification program, and amazingly-expansive Terrace Tree Program, and the micro-loan downtown business program designed to help existing businesses survive the reconstruction. While it is clear the agency was involved in many other programs throughout the year, these high-profile efforts helped move Oshkosh forward.
Grow Award: Expansion of Community Gardens in Oshkosh
Oshkosh has seen an explosion in the support and involvement in local food production, highlighted by the increasing popularity in our downtown farmers markets as well as the great expansion of community garden opportunities. Community Gardens have expanded from the popular Sherman Road site to include a temporary spot at the Riverside Cemetery (thanks to the efforts of UW Ext and city parks staff!) and a neighborhood park spot in the east central part of town. While the long-range goal of the city should be to provide neighborhood opportunities throughout the community, this has been a great start for Oshkosh.
Local Political Newcomer of the Year: Allan Siman
Allan lost in last year's common council election. That is nothing special. But what Allan did was work hard, and provide a solid message to move the city forward. But Allan wins this award for his infiltration of city politics, from his service on the Parks Board to his new involvement with the Sustainability Board. Allan will likely continue to be involved in local election politics, as well as city affairs, and is poised to become a future leader of our city.
The UnSafety Award: Riverwalk without a Safe Walk
The city receives an A+ for committing our riverfront to public use, and a riverwalk park area is great. Picture: Families enjoying the fine summer days, slipping on a fresh fruit smoothie while opening their new Exclusive Company CD before they stop in at Cranky Pats for great pizza. But in such relaxing enjoyment, their child trips while running along the river shore drop off. No railings. Nothing to grab on to. So wait. Instead of being family-friendly, or conducive to any range of public "river walk" activities, we're without railings, and without safety. If we had a worst decision award, this would get it.
Beat Down the Leaches Award: Payday Loan regulations by Gordon Hintz
Anyone who has ever worked with lower income families is familiar with the credit report that includes 5, 6, 7, or more payday loan defaults - defaults of $200 or so that now state an owed amount of $1200. There is little value to anything produced by these suckers of dignity and worth from society, and worse, they inhibit many well-intentioned and potential players in our economy from getting back on their feet. Gordon Hintz's few years in the state Assembly have made him the anti-paydayloan, the avenger of those abused by this economy-leaching. Gordon has stood firm despite the anticipated back-down by many of his fellow dems who were convinced of poor misfortunes of the "abused" paydayloan industry following huge amounts of lobbying dollars being spent.
The Makes Sense Award: Event City adopting an Event's Policy
I have not read the policy, and have not even discussed it with those involved in its creation. However, if you are going to be a city with a significant number of huge events that also boasts a terrific outdoor event facility (the Leach), it just makes sense that you have some sort of policy to ensure safety, accountability, and fairness. Here is some of the new requirements. Concerning the event city side of things, Polly and others were not too happy.
The Surprise Award: Oshkosh resident Ron Johnson's Senate Victory
Before the start of this year, MSO contributors had never even heard of Mr. Johnson. Actually, it seems most folks involved locally in civic "things" like local and county government, community building, police and neighborhood watch programming, local media programming, local art and music programs, programming for senior and disabled members of our community, environmental improvement activities, and, well, making our city a great place to live - Oshkosh folks involved in these activities hadn't heard of Ron Johnson either.
However, some combination of great connections, significant financial resources, and an over-powering wave of discontent and frustration swept Johnson from a nobody to Wisconsin's first Republican US Senator in quite some time. And for that, he is awarded the coveted Surprise Award.