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Madison gains sister city

Ald. Samba Baldeh, 17th District, introduced delegates from his home country of Gambia at Tuesday's City Council meeting. Council members unanimously approved a sister city relationship with Kanifing, Gambia.

The Madison City Council has scheduled a special meeting next week to vote on the major Judge Doyle Square development, but at least four of 20 alders will miss it.

Mayor Paul Soglin and council leadership plan to move the vote on a development agreement with JDS Development and Exact Sciences Corp. from this week’s regular Tuesday council meeting to a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23, due to a crowded agenda and a late meeting start.

“It is very disappointing and discouraging to have put in so much time and effort to prepare myself for a vote that I will not be able to take, nor will I have the opportunity to persuade or be persuaded by my colleagues on the Common Council in the course of debate,” District 18 Ald. Rebecca Kemble wrote in a blog post.

Kemble, Barbara McKinney, Larry Palm and Samba Baldeh will all be absent for the special meeting. Palm, Baldeh and Kemble are out of town and McKinney has a neighborhood meeting on Madison's southwest side, according to the council's legislative administrative assistant Lisa Veldran.

The vote was originally scheduled for Sept. 1, but with a few elements still up in the air at that date, alders voted to push the vote to the next meeting. Now, the vote will likely be pushed another week behind schedule, a timeline driven by Exact Sciences’ desire to occupy its new headquarters by summer of 2017.

The project involves 250,000 square feet of office space for Exact Sciences’ headquarters, along with parking, a 216-room hotel, commercial space, a bicycle center and another 107,000 square feet of office expansion space on the blocks housing the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking ramp. The entire project will cost $200.7 million, with about a third of that coming from public funding.

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Palm wrote in his blog he fully supports the concept of reuse of the site, however, he is also aware the current proposal “does have issues that to date have not been fully worked through.”

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to join the discussion as these are very complex decisions that I am sure will be deliberated fully by the Council and they will make a decision in the best interest of the City of Madison,” Palm wrote.

Correction: Ald. Barbara McKinney will be absent because she is attending a neighborhood meeting on the southwest side of Madison, not the south side.

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