Burke Agreement Meets Town Officials Terms

By: Melissa Wollering Email
By: Melissa Wollering Email

If they are going to lose it, they want to hand it over on their own terms. Board members in the Town of Burke say they have been fighting a losing battle to keep what is left of their municipality. This week, they are another step closer to an agreement that will divide Burke between three cities in thirty years. Both town officials and residents agree that having three more decades to operate as a municipality is longer than anyone expected Burke to last.

For years, Burke has been a popular place to move to get out of Madison.

"They wanted to get away from the city," says Burke town board member Bill Kurt. "They wanted a little more space, lower taxes and good services."

However, the town of Burke has lost close to 2,600 acres in the last decade. The old town hall moved many times. Its last location, across from what is now East Towne Mall, reveals how much has changed.

"Where the Office Depot is located now that's where our town hall was for many years," says Kurt. "We fought for years to try and fight the annexations and it didn't work. It just spent taxpayer dollars without getting anywhere."

Rather than lose pieces unpredictably, Bill Kurt and the town board came up with a four-way boundary agreement. Town residents are protected for thirty years. After October 2036, DeForest, Sun Prairie and the City of Madison will all assume parts of Burke--with Madison gaining the most.

"The meaning behind this whole deal was to get some type of a tax base that we can still live on and keep our town services up, the plowing, maintain our roads," says Kurt.

Over at Burke Station, residents say thirty years is longer than they thought the town could resist encroachment.

'You can complain but where's it going to get you?" asks Burke resident Ron Markham. "We're being outnumbered by the big city of Madison."

Ron Markham lives on Thorson Road, which will eventually become part of the city of Madison. But Markham says he hopes to be long gone when that happens.

"I don't think it's going to be a big deal, my wife and I Debra, we're going to be dead probably and before then moved away from here to somewhere warm I hope," says Markham.

"Thirty years is a long time down the road," agrees Kurt. "Figure out where you will be in thirty years and it's not going to be that bad."

The agreement would not affect districting between DeForest, Sun Prairie and Madison schools. Children living in the town of Burke now go to all three. On Monday night, the DeForest Village Board approved the boundary agreement unanimously. On Tuesday night, Sun Prairie unanimously approved it and Madison's City Council was scheduled to vote late Tuesday evening on the proposed agreement.

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