West District Recommendations
see also: West District - West District Findings
Summary of Findings
With its relatively low population density and location at the western edge of Madison, the West district is well endowed with open space, exceeding the standard of ten acres per 1,000 residents. There is also an abundance of natural space, including forest fragments and water impoundments, and some of these sites could provide an opportunity for creating a new 25-acre natural area. Though the district falls short of total street tree coverage, it comes closer than any other district with 87% coverage. But because of its lower-density development and significant reliance on automobile transportation, the district has room for improvement with respect to the four ecological goals. Transit service, residential sidewalk coverage, and impervious surface area are all attributes that the West District should seek to address.
District-wide, there is no shortage of public open space. The West has nearly five times the standard of ten acres per 1,000 residents. It has the highest amount of total open space while second to the North district in public open space and second to the East district in private open space. Because of its large population the West's per capita public open space ranks third after the North and South districts. As a percentage of total district area, open space accounts for about 17% of the district, second only to the North. Much of this open space consists of agriculture lands at the western edge of the district.
Though the West district's four community gardens (Old Sauk, Gammon, Tamarack Trails, and Marlborough) account for more than 20%of the city's community gardens, there is still a deficit of 21 sites in meeting the standard of one garden per 2,000 residents. This deficit is the largest of all six districts.
The natural areas performance standard of 25 acres per 25,000 residents is applied at the city level, rather than the district level, and two additional sites are needed in Madison to meet this standard. The West district's existing patches of natural space show the most promise for providing one of these sites. The West currently has several patches of natural areas of 25 acres or larger and at least one additional site that could be expanded to 25 acres. As a whole, the district has over twice as much forested area than any other district, but on a per capita basis, it ranks second to the South district.
In the West district, tree canopy covers 87% of the street network, the highest percentage in the City. The district still faces a 13% deficit in meeting the 100% standard. A portion of the streets lacking trees are within agricultural areas, and it can be expected that if these areas are developed, street trees will be planted.
Only 68% of the West district's parcels have sidewalks, one of the smallest percentages in the Madison. This finding is consistent with a general trend of less sidewalk coverage in areas with lower population density; the East is the other district with a small percentage of sidewalk coverage, in contrast to the Isthmus district at nearly 100%.
Although parts of the West district do not qualify for transit service in terms of their population density, 90% of the area that does qualify is currently served. This level of service is about average for Madison; it is lower than the 100% service on the Isthmus, but higher than the East district's 86% service. Two additional transit stops are needed to meet the performance standard for transit service.
The standard of 20% maximum impervious coverage applies to the West district, which has been classified in this study as a low-density area. Currently, the district is slightly above this standard with 22%; achieving the standard percentage would entail a 230-acre reduction in impervious coverage. As a percentage of total district area, the West's level of impervious coverage is relatively low, but because of the large size of the district, the total impervious surface area is one of the greatest. As with other districts, building footprints and parking areas contribute a substantial share of the West's total impervious surface area.
Recommendations by Goal
As a more-recently developed and expanding part of Madison, the West district presents important opportunities for improving ecological performance both for the district as well as the City as a whole. The abundance of open space is a crucial asset that can be used to achieve multiple sustainability goals including the preservation of natural space and the expansion of urban agriculture. The West is fortunate in that its spatial constraints are not as limiting as some of the other, denser parts of the City. The district can use this flexibility to guide future development so that new growth protects environmental resources rather than overwhelming them and creates spaces for people that are attractive and easy to get around. The recommendations presented here are intended to help the West in this effort.