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Should HOA begin snow removal of neighborhood bike/walking paths?

Neighbors, the HOA needs our input.

Some neighbors contacted the Home Owners Association (managed by Shandar at DSI) to look into snow/ice removal of the public walking / bike paths through the neighborhood in the winter. After receiving bids for the project, DSI is reporting the cost to clear the paths would be approximately $8k per winter, which would increase neighborhood HOA dues approximately $18.50 per household.

The HOA (currently controlled by Veridian) has the final vote in the matter, but they would obviously like neighborhood input on the issue. PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR VOTE / COMMENTS BELOW and we will pass them along to the HOA.

As background, much earlier in the neighborhood’s history, the paths were cleared but neighbors at the time felt their limited use in the winter did not justify the shoveling expense. Since then, there has been quite a bit of neighborhood growth and increased path usage, so some neighbors asked DSI to look into reinstating snow removal.  Neighbors who walk dogs have been the most vocal supporters of this request.  The cost would be a per-snowfall basis, but they estimate an average of 16 snowfalls per season which would total out to that $18 per household (with the apartments paying their dues share as well).

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR VOTE / COMMENTS BELOW and we will pass them along to the HOA. If you’d prefer to contact Shandar with DSI directly with your thoughts, you can always reach her at

Vote on Snow Removal

Should HOA dues increase $18 to pay for walking path snow removal in the winter?

[-Voting Closed-]

Secret Places Neighborhood Association 1st Annual Rubber Duck Race

Sun, Oct 2, 11:00 AM


Big pond at the top of the stream (near the Secret Places Park)


Soon, the stream will be shut off for the winter, but first we have a gaggle of rubber ducks who want to race down it. Will your rubber duck finish first?

Please join the Secret Places Neighborhood Association for the 1st Annual Rubber Duck Race on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 11 a.m. at the big pond at the top of the stream (near the Secret Places Park). Children of all ages are invited to participate for delicious prizes.

If you would like to help volunteer, we need a dozen adults to help shepherd the kids and also long polls, golf clubs, oars, etc. to help nudge stuck duckies along.  Let us know:


Secret Places Neighborhood Ice Cream Social

The Neighborhood Association will once again be hosting a neighborhood Ice Cream Social Wednesday, August 24 from 6pm -7:30pm at Secret Places Park.  Please help spread the word to your neighbors.


Special thanks to neighbor Staci Fritz, owner of Calliope Ice Cream, who is graciously donating the ice cream once again.


We look forward to seeing everyone there.

July Waterways Meeting Recap

Thanks to everyone who made it to the meeting to discuss the stream and ponds for our neighborhood.  Some of the major topics we discussed included:

  • Ongoing efforts to find and address the leak causing the lower pond’s water level to fall.
  • Planned improvements to the stream to reduce algae including installing new bio filters, adding fountains (thanks in part to a grant from the city of Madison, options shown in slideshow), and adding aquatic plant life (options show in slideshow).  The efforts by volunteers earlier this spring to clean out debris and leaves will also help as well.
  • Efforts to reduce erosion by restoring fallen shoreline rocks.
  • Education efforts for neighbors on how to keep the stream looking great.

See the attached slideshow for more information: July 2016- SP Neighborhood Water Meeting – v2

There is still more research to be done on all fronts as well as pricing out what can be done this year vs. future years.  We’ll continue to keep neighbors informed as we move forward.  As always, if you are interested in helping or have questions, just let us know.

Neighborhood Waterways meeting July 13th

There will be a Secret Places neighborhood waterways meeting July 13th from 6:30pm – 8pm at the McFarland Village Hall.

We will discuss maintenance and repair plans, addressing the algae problem, potential upgrades such as adding fountains and aquatic plant life, as well as neighborhood education on ways we can all keep the stream looking great.  There are lots of opportunities for neighborhood input for those who are interested.

Please RSVP here

The addition of fountains are funded in part by the City of Madison Neighborhood Grants Program

Apartment Complex Update: Construction won’t begin until spring 2017

According to the developer, construction will not begin on the new apartment complex until spring 2017.

Updated draft of apartment complex site plans

Here is the latest draft of the apartment complex site plans from the developer.


160510 – Photometric Plan and Cut Sheets 11X17


The developer says:

“We were able to get agreement with the pipeline company for more ground plantings in the ROW, as reflected on the attached plans.

Also of note, we were able to lower the buildings along Catalina Parkway slightly and smooth out the slope to make it less steep.”

Catalina Landscape Plan Set 2016 05 18


Thanks for a great creek cleanup!

Thank you to everyone who came to help with the stream cleanup. We had about 30 people come by to help and got done sooner than expected. We were able to remove a lot of debris and put the rocks back along the bank.  You can see pictures below:

If you’d like to help keep the stream beautiful, here are things we can all do to help:

  • Don’t dump grass clipping, leaves, or other organic material in or near the water. This turns into algae food.
  • Don’t let fertilizer run off into the stream which also becomes algae food.
  • Discourage kids & pets from picking up and throwing rocks from the bank of the stream, this is leading to erosion of the banks.
  • Once we plant the aquatic plant-life back in the stream, don’t pull them out.  They will help filter the water.


We’ll have some more meetings in the future to discuss more improvements to the stream, such as new filters, fountains, and aquatic plant life.  Stay tuned!







Before cleaning  (Last fall):











After cleaning (This Spring):


Apartment Update – Notes from Planning Commission meeting 4/18/16

The Planning Commission meeting tonight went well.   The developer has addressed a few more of our concerns so things continue to move in a positive direction.

The Commission voted to move the process forward on conditions that the developer take the latest changes back to UDC, so the next step is now for is no longer the May 3rd Common Council meeting.  It will be back to UDC, then planning commission again, then common council.  So once we know more about the dates we’ll send them around to folks.

Once again, Alder Demarb went above and beyond to help ask questions and advocate for neighbors.


  • The developer will bring a detailed landscaping & playground plan to the next UDC hearing
  • They are having conversations with the gas company and think there may be opportunities to have more diverse plantings beyond just grass on top of the pipeline
  • The design team is exploring new color variations and materials/architecture to break up the monotonous look of that front row of apartments. They’ll present the next version at UDC.
  • Lighting plan and signage plan will be presented at UDC as well
  • UDC hearing brought up the question if there would be a way to curve the west-most building to match the road better, but the pipeline and land configuration doesn’t make that possible.
  • They won’t promise an onsite management plan, but said they expect to have 2 people that are accessible via phone 24/7 and will give the manager contact info to the neighborhood association so we can report problems as well if needed.
  • The developer will help monitor parking issues and is concerned as neighbors are if people start parking RVs, Boats, etc. on side streets as it will decrease their ability to sell their apartments.
  • Building plan: plan to build the east side first, then the west side.  Each side should take about a year to build.
  • The main ‘negative’ from the meeting was that despite City staff suggesting a traffic abatement deposit be ‘prudent’, and the developer’s lobbyist saying they’d be open to that, the planning commission chose not to enforce that. We’ll continue to talk to Alder Demarb about what our options may be for this part.

Apartment complex UDC hearing Notes

The developer presented the latest revisions to the apartment complex.  These include:

  • The entrance street has been adjusted to reduce the headlight shine into neighbors’ front windows.
  • Updated landscaping plans including layout of the central playground area and play structure, green-space, and fire pit area.
  • A draft of the management plan for the property
  • To see details about these items and the current plan, see here


Secret Places neighborhood board members spoke out in favor of the neighborhood to convey remaining concerns.  Alder Demarb spoke on behalf of neighbors as well.  The UDC committee members’ main area of concern was that the front of the project look too uniform and boring.  They requested the developer look into changing the articulation of the rooftops or change color pallets to break up the row better.


The Neighborhood Association will send a consolidated list of concerns (below) to the Planning Commission.  If you have anything else you want to see on this list, please let us know or you can always contact the city yourself by emailing:  Firchow, Kevin <> and Demarb, Denise <>.


The next hearing by the city will be the Planning Commission hearing on Monday, April 18th


The draft of the Neighborhood’s letter of remaining concerns is below:


April 14, 2016

To the City of Madison Planning Commission Members

RE: Catalina Crossing Apartment Development Plan


Dear Commission Members,


The neighbors of the Secret Places Neighborhood appreciate the open communication between the Developer, the Neighborhood, and the City throughout this process.  We appreciate the efforts the Developer has made to address some of our initial questions and concerns.  We wish to highlight the remaining issues which have either arisen during subsequent hearings or have not yet been fully resolved and we hope they may be addressed as the process moves forward.

  • Traffic Abatement Bond – Given the high concentration of families with kids in the neighborhood, speeding and other traffic issues remain a top concern. We request the developer make a traffic abatement bond/deposit to pay for potential traffic mitigation needs down the road should they become necessary and also request the City make plans for a follow-up traffic study after development is complete to determine if traffic abetment is warranted.


  • Two onsite managers for the property – The current draft of the management plan acknowledges that there will be ‘on-site staff’ but doesn’t specify how many. We’d like clarity on this point.


  • Change up the visual monotony of the row of townhouses in front- In the draft presented at the UDC hearing, the townhouses appear to all be the same color with the same roof articulation.  Neighbors would appreciate a more varied look to better integrate with the style of the rest of the neighborhood.  Changing up paint colors and other external visuals may help achieve this goal.


  • Review options for permissible plantings in front – the gas pipeline clearly limits what can be placed there, but we appreciate the City’s request of the developer to explore what variations besides grass may be permissible.


  • Parking enforcement on Catalina – The management plan clearly specifies the number of type of vehicles permitted on the premises for tenants. Neighbors are concerned some tenants may be pushed to park trailers, boats, motorcycles, and campers on Catalina Parkway (as is happening with the current apartments at the front of the development).  We hope the City will keep these parking issues in mind as they patrol the neighborhood.


We look forward to seeing these concerns addressed in the final proposal and appreciate the


Mike Pfohl

Vice President

Secret Places Neighborhood Association


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