Bicentennial Park virtual tour
offered at City Council meeting
for future park includes several changes
(October 2006) Madison Mayor Al Huntington,
the City Council and various community leaders in July 2005 unveiled
a design of the future Madison Bicentennial Park that included an amphitheater
for public events and permanent restroom facilities.
rendition of the future Madison
Bicentennial Park was presented a
year ago by Ratio Architects. It has
undergone minor changes since then.
The park, which officials hope will be completed by the
citys 200th anniversary in 2009, would make use of the vacant
block between West and Central streets along the riverfront. It is the
site where the former Maddox Tobacco Warehouse once stood and was outlined
in a RoundAbout Madison cover story published in August 2005.
Last month, the mayor and city council held a public forum to present
a virtual tour of the future park created by Indianapolis-based Ratio
Architects. The latest design has some changes and additions to that
original plan but for the most part is consistent with a versatile park
setting along the citys riverfront. It will be paid for by the
city in phases as the park plan is developed, the mayor said.
This park is a gift to the city from the city, said Huntington,
who has personally spearheaded the project.
Initially when preparing the parks design, he and other officials
had tried to respond to suggestions and comments from residents near
the riverfront, local tourism and historic preservation officials, and
from festival organizers.
One major change was the omission of a permanent shell stage in exchange
for a mobile stage that the city has purchased and is awaiting its delivery.
At a Sept. 19 city council meeting, Kenneth Boyce of Ratio Architects
presented the virtual tour, which included several changes from the
These changes included:
The amphitheater stage would be in the southwest corner of the
park along Vaughn Drive instead of the southeast corner as was originally
A proposed ice skating rink to be located on the concrete slab
in winter months and replaced with the citys new mobile stage
for various events and festivals.
A large hearth that would designate the entry into the ice rink.
An entry pavilion to the park at West Street.
A series of swings under shaded structures that run east and
west in the park.
A zero-depth splash park. The original design called for an interactive
A four-part pavilion area near the proposed housing development
that could be used for commercial use, including a possible coffee or
A trellis structure proposed in the original design that bisected
the park and included canvas awnings for possible vendors was disregarded.
The wooded buffer zone in the original plan was changed.
The restroom facility was moved to the west of Central, instead
of east of Central in the original proposal.
Huntington told the sparse crowd that the plans are still
malleable, and input into any of the proposals is welcome. We
really want to hear from the public about this park because it is for
Boyce discussed why the park was needed and how it would benefit and
complement the city. He said it would be the geographic center of all
the citys festivals, and both large and small community events
could make use of the facilities.
Boyce also outlined the proposed stages and schedule for the construction
of the park. Bids would be taken for each stage from interested developers.
The first stage, which would ideally be completed by spring 2007, would
be for the permanent restrooms.
The second stage would be the heavy earthwork and infrastructure phase.
This would include the work on the walkways, the electrical work, water
pipes and the structure pad for the stage and ice rink area. The construction
for this work would immediately follow the 2007 Madison Regatta.
In the last stage, projected to start at some point in 2008, would be
the building of the amenities, such as the actual amphitheater, swings
and other structures. All of the stages would ideally be completed in
time for the citys 2009 Bicentennial Celebration.
Huntington said the city is anxious to get started on the construction
of the restroom facility, which everyone agreed was a necessity for
the riverfront area. Our No. 1 goal is to get that restroom built,
Huntington said the money for the restroom facility has been budgeted
into the citys finances for the past two years. The city has allowed
approximately $100,000 for the restrooms. That money comes from economic
development funds and income taxes. Funds for the rest of the
stages will be laid out for cost over a period of time, he said.
Huntington had hoped to get the stage for the restroom construction
started this fall, but disagreement at the meeting over the proposed
design of the restroom will send architects back to the drawing board.
Construction will likely be delayed because of indecision.
Huntington met with architects several times and discussed various proposals
for the restroom facilities before deciding upon a design that was in
keeping with the industrial nature of the area. We wanted to go
with a historic theme that complemented our existing buildings,
Boyce said, We wanted a building that fits in with the historic
structures in the area but yet one that people knew was a modern building.
The proposed design was for a rectangular building of either stone or
brick with large square windows along the top in the front for natural
lighting and two entry doors in the middle of the front.
The inside accommodations will be as vandal-proof as possible
without making them uncomfortable, said Boyce.
Representatives from various historic organizations in the city were
concerned the building looked too much like it belonged in a park.
Suggestions were made for design changes including wider doors and arched
We are trying to get approval with the historic boards for the
design because we think it is important to work with everyone on this
issue. Wed rather lose time and get what people want than have
them disappointed, said Huntington.
He said the restrooms would likely be built now in the spring of 2007
and that possibly it would concur with the heavy earthwork stage of
He said officials still hope to inaugurate the park during the citys
Back to October 2006