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Wisconsin Town Dissolves Just Days Ahead of Election

What was once the town of Madison has become parts of other communities, forcing a small group of residents to change addresses, street names and polling places just a week before Election Day.

(TNS) — As the town of Madison, Wisc., dissolves and becomes part of the cities of Madison and Fitchburg on Monday, some residents will face hassles with changing addresses and street names — just days before the coming election.

Overall, the overwhelming majority of town residents will see no change, with changes coming only at some properties coming to the city of Madison. The city is changing addresses at 19 commercial parcels and 84 residential parcels, and when including addresses within multi-unit buildings, the total rises to 23 commercial and 208 residential changes.

The city has sent letters notifying those facing changes that first-class mail sent to an old address will be automatically forwarded to the new address for 12 months. Still, it can mean hassles for residents notifying those who send mail, packages or deliveries; changing driver's licenses; and displaying new addresses on properties.

There could also be confusion about voting in the Nov. 8 election.

Before, all town residents voted at the Town Hall, 2120 Fish Hatchery Road, but that facility won't be used as a polling place on Nov. 8. Instead, residents can vote at one of seven locations on the South, Southwest and East sides closest to their homes. Town voters can find their polling place by visiting MyVote.wi.gov.

Further, the city will have staff at the former Town Hall on Election Day in case residents are confused because it's no longer a polling place. Staff will be able to talk to residents and direct them to the appropriate site.

At the polling places, polling books will have the residents' former addresses, which would match what's on a driver's license that hasn't been changed, but the city's Engineering Division is also providing the City Clerk's Office with a list of addresses the city is changing, and the Clerk's Office will provide that list to affected polling sites, City Clerk Meribeth Witzel-Behl said.

The city also worked with the state Elections Commission about getting proper absentee ballots to those who requested them and information about how they should be returned.

Madison is making the changes to bring uniformity to addresses so emergency vehicles respond quickly to calls, and to hasten postal and other delivery services, eliminate confusion when traveling to an address, and locating businesses and homes without difficulty or delay, said Jeff Quamme, city Engineering Division land information manager.

The change-of-address letters were sent out on Oct. 20 to coincide with a welcome letter from Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway that was coordinated through the Planning Division.

Those getting a new address must post the new number of the house or building so it can be seen from the street. For street names, the city is only changing the name of part of Fiedler Lane to West Fiedler Lane, and a private road within a condominium on Fiedler Lane will change to a private road called Eric Circle.

Jeff Richter, whose address on Cliff Court is changing, said he understands why the city is making the changes, but is unhappy with the process and timing so close to an election. He said he was initially notified his street name would change, and successfully fought it, but still must change his street address. He said he has to pay a lawyer to change information on a trust, change house numbers he had just put up after a remodeling, and let a lot of people know about his address change.

Ald. Sheri Carter, 14th District, who will represent many former town residents, is most concerned about making address changes before the election.

"I thought this was going to happen after the election," she said. "The clerk's office is scrambling to have dual addresses for some people. I'm disappointed. This is an important election."

The city of Madison has done extensive outreach to ease the transition for town residents, Engineering Division spokesperson Hannah Mohelnitzky said. The city did numerous press releases, live websites in multiple languages, videos, live interviews, press conferences, multiple public meetings, and community navigators were sent door-to-door, she said.

Currently, Fitchburg does not have any plans to change any addresses or street names, city administrator Chad Brecklin said.

"As we gain additional experience providing service to our new residents in the former town of Madison, it could be possible that address or street name changes could be worth consideration, particularly from a public safety response perspective," Brecklin said. "If, in the future, address or street name changes are identified and proposed, we would be sure to engage in dialogue with those affected by the proposed change."


(c)2022 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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