Oscar Mayer plant

The Madison City Council approved an additional $50,000 and the creation of a committee to examine the 72-acre Oscar Mayer site for future use after the plant shutters in July.

The Madison City Council on Tuesday approved the creation of a committee to assess the soon-to-be-vacant Oscar Mayer campus, while adding $50,000 to complete the assessment.

The funds will be added to the $100,000 included in the city’s 2017 budget to create Strategic Assessment and Special Area plans with the help of a consultant for the 72-acre site on the city’s East Side. An up-to-13-member Oscar Mayer Strategic Assessment Committee will also be formed to oversee the creation of plans.

City officials hope to craft a report detailing the site and surroundings areas, its current and potential future role on economic impact, long-term objectives, infrastructure needs and more.

Once a consultant is hired to help with the planning, council members, city staff, neighborhood residents and people with business and labor experience will be selected for the committee.

Within six months of meeting, the committee is set to present the Oscar Mayer Strategic Assessment plan to the City Council.

The city’s Racial Equity Social Justice Tool will also be used in evaluating the impact of possible development in the area.

Oscar Mayer’s plant, which has been around for almost a century, is slated to close in July.

Chief of staff post OK’d

Also on Tuesday, the City Council approved the creation of a council chief of staff position.

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The position will hold supervisory authority over the current three council staff members. The job is budgeted between $94,365 to $127,391 annually, and whoever fills it will hold a five-year term.

The chief of staff will help council members navigate the administrative and legislative process, provide advice and consultation, and act as a liaison with the Mayor’s Office, city staff and the public, among other responsibilities.

Alds. David Ahrens and Sheri Carter were the two dissents on a voice vote.

“We’re not really paying attention to the structural problems of governance,” Ahrens said. “The issues pertaining to council effectiveness are far deeper than something that can be remedied through one position or two positions or however many.”

Ald. Matt Phair said he agreed with Ahrens that the makeup of the city government should be examined, but he argued the chief of staff position is “absolutely needed.”

Council President Marsha Rummel, 6th District, said the job could be filled by the third quarter of this year.

Also at the meeting, the Hail Mary Sports Grill was officially granted a liquor license after being denied in February. The owners of the restaurant, located at 401 E. Washington Ave., agreed to surrender their license for the Tiki Shack, 124 State St., in order to get the new license.

The council also voted to go ahead with a non-renewal process for the liquor license of Sol Azteca, 1821 S. Park St.

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