While taking 10 deep breaths of the 50-degree air Monday night that seems to indicate we have survived another Wisconsin winter, I thought …
Commissioner flashback: Monday’s two-hour-long Platteville Plan Commission meeting reminded me of the four years I spent in my one experience in (appointive) government, as a plan commission member in Ripon. (City government there could be a bit fractious too; a friend of mine was appointed to the city’s Police and Fire Commission, and after a heated first meeting, my friend called the mayor who appointed him and said, “I thought you were my friend.”)
Plan commissions are a great example of the tension between property rights and community standards. They are also a great example of the tension among levels of the same government, since (as I found out to my disgruntlement) city councils are not bound by the decisions their plan commissions make. When that happened, I would make angry on-the-record comments at meetings asking what the hell our role was when the city council felt free to ignore the time we spent on the issue du jour. (The fact that aldermen are elected and plan commission members not was beside the point, in my opinion of the time.)
I have a suspicion that’s going to happen with the Plan Commission’s vote Monday night to deny the Planned Unit Development request to build a new chapel and student housing on the St. Augustine University Parish property. I didn’t play the How Would Steve Vote game Monday night, but as someone at the meeting pointed out, Monday’s meeting sounded like meetings before the Common Council approved what became Rountree Commons, despite complaints about insufficient parking and other issues.
Traffic and parking are legitimate issues, particularly when you consider that other apartment projects were required to adhere to chapter and verse of city ordinances requiring the stipulated amount of parking on site. The developers have been trying to get out of that requirement of 112 on-site spots, by bringing up remote parking (first in UW–Platteville’s remote lot on Southwest Road, now at St. Mary Catholic Church) and ways to discourage renters from bringing their cars.
Other issues brought up are … well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but some opinions are not the commission’s business. Some people oppose the project because they do not believe student housing that will mostly attract Roman Catholics is a good idea, which, let’s be honest, is the result of Platteville Catholicism’s divisions. I have already said in this space that architectural opinions are just that — opinions. It also seems to me that whether the developers can find enough tenants is the developers’ problem and not really the city’s; that’s how free enterprise is supposed to work.
The interim coach: It is excellent, though no longer unexpected, news that UW men’s basketball coach Greg Gard got the word “interim” removed from his title Tuesday. It may have been unexpected when, three months ago, UW coach Bo Ryan announced his retirement, apparently interrupting UW athletic director Barry Alvarez’s plans to get a name coach.
(Side note: Speaking of names, as someone known as “Presty” since approximately third grade, I find it interesting that both Greg and his brother, UW–Platteville coach Jeff Gard, are known as “Gardo,” since nicknames usually shorten, not extend, names. I also bring this up because I assume the Gards and we Prestegards — and, as you know, the Prestegaard of the other UW–Platteville basketball team — have similar lineage from climates colder than even this one.)
Greg Gard may not have been a household name, but he was obviously well respected within college basketball before the word “associate” was replaced by “interim” in December. And Gard gave no reason for UW to consider anyone else as coach. It’s perhaps ironic that Gard returned the Badgers to the swing offense Ryan developed but got away from the past few seasons, but the results confirmed the change. Gard was patient with the team that was younger than people realized, the team stayed together and got some unexpected road wins within the nearly-impossible-to-win-on-the-road Big Ten, and this weekend will continue the Badgers’ run of NCAA tournament berths. (Which means Nigel Hayes will be able to continue to confound NCAA tournament stenographers with really long words.)
So now UW has a Platteville High School graduate as its football coach and an Iowa–Grant and UW–Platteville graduate as its men’s basketball coach. Perhaps Alvarez should look this direction (no, I have no one in mind) for his now-vacant women’s basketball coaching position and his possibly soon-to-be-vacant men’s hockey coaching position. (See previous parentheses.) Southwest Wisconsin seems to do well with coaching UW–Madison sports.