Fitchburg is Dane County’s third-largest municipality by population, and it’s likely to keep growing.
Last year, the city made strides toward accommodating that growth – from new schools and a rebounding housing market to body cameras for police officers and its first dog park.
While growth was not a theme of all of the Fitchburg Star’s top 10 stories of 2018, as voted on by staff, it was the impetus for many of them. And those that aren’t about planning for growth could be considered a consequence of it.
In 2018, Fitchburg saw progress on the new Verona Area High School, which while it’s in the City of Verona, will make a big difference for Fitchburg students who will soon be able to make use of the modern high school and by younger students who could end up switching schools as a result of the domino effect of moving other schools to the current high school campus. Oregon School District residents here, meanwhile, will soon have their first school within city boundaries, as voters approved a referendum to build a new elementary.
At No. 2 on our list was housing growth, as the market had more than 100 single-family permits issued for the first time in more than a decade.
Just behind that on the list comes a pair of business expansions, one already here and one moving to Fitchburg. That was tied with discussions about changing how the Fitch-Rona EMS Department operates and is governed, which could have big consequences in the years to come if any action is taken.
Next is a change that will affect how often voters go to the polls with a local election on their ballot, with local seats now up for election every spring for the first time since Fitchburg became a city in 1983.
The next four spots all relate to law enforcement, from an early-year homicide and new police chief to the rollout of a body camera program and some unexpected immigration enforcement in September.
The new dog park opening rounds out our top 10, as it is an amenity many in the community pushed for, even as some neighbors expressed concerns about potential flooding.
An ongoing car theft problem, two new school principals and a new library outreach program didn’t even make our final list, but all could have long-term impacts on various populations in the city, so we had to include them as honorable mentions.