I was curious about the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans for a free fish fry in the Allied drive neighborhood where they planned to roll out some plans about the Verona/Beltline interchange. DOT: Free Meal At Public Meeting A Mistake
In an effort to boost participation, the DOT offered a free fish fry and child care to residents using taxpayer money that comes from the gas tax.
The DOT said Thursday that partly because of a WISC-TV report on the free meal and negative feedback, taxpayers will not foot the bill for the free food. The DOT said an anonymous donor will pay for it instead.
All of this brought to mind comments I heard at a neighborhood meeting I attended at Allied Drive around 2004. I was surprised when some neighborhood residents expressed support for the massive rebuild of the interchange which would significantly impact their area, and not all positively.
When I asked why they expressed support for the project, the responses was unanimous. "The DOT is the only government agency that came in here and asked us what we wanted before they began making plans for our neighborhood."
A lot has happened in Allied Drive since 2004. That statement may be dated. After all, other government agencies and non-profits were part of some significant changes in the area and did some listening themselves.
Without passing judgment on the changes at Allied drive or the propriety of the DOT paying for a fish fry and babysitting, which is a critical need to get parental participation in an area with lots of small kids, there is a lesson here.
It is good to listen.