Bicentennial Park, Heritage Trail
projects a challenge for mayor, others
in redesign puts riverfront
restrooms on hold until spring 2009
(August 2008) Despite facing various roadblocks
along the way, Madison city officials say they are determined to push
forward to complete several important projects that will help define
the town into the future.
by Don Ward
Mayor Tim Armstrong has
diverted $500,000 in grant money
originally earmarked for Heritage Trail
to finish the Madison Riverfront
development (above). He says both
projects will eventually be completed,
along with Bicentennial Park.
The Riverfront Develop-ment Project, the Heritage Trail
of Madison, Madison Bicentennial Park and the Michigan Road sidewalk
upgrade are among the primary initiatives being managed from Madison
Mayor Tim Armstrongs office. Although volunteer committees meet
regularly to manage these projects, funded in part by federal transportation
money and grants, the mayor is ultimately responsible for their success,
he said during a July 24 interview at City Hall.
Several of the projects have been hampered or stalled by construction
costs, environmental and design delays, and pending approval by state
officials. But Armstrong said many of those issues have been resolved,
thus allowing the projects to move forward.
I want to commend our volunteer groups that have worked hard on
these projects, said Armstrong, who took office last January following
a close election to unseat 13-year incumbent Al Huntington. Without
our community volunteers, many of these projects would not be possible
because we simply dont have the manpower to handle them.
In addition to running the day-to-day affairs of the city, Armstrong
inherited a long list of ongoing capital projects and federally funded
initiatives. The Madison Parks Department oversees all but the sidewalks.
The Riverfront Develop-ment Project, Heritage Trail and the Michigan
Road sidewalk project have all received approval for federal Transportation
Enhance-ment grants. The Indiana Department of Transporta-tion administers
contracts that involve federal funds, therefore environmental study
and design work must be approved by INDOT before funds are released
Following is an update on these projects:
Madison Riverfront Development
In late 2007, the Madison Riverfront Development Committee met the $300,000
matching funds required for $1.2 million in T.E. grants approved to
complete the sidewalk along the Ohio River on Vaughn Drive.
The project, which actually began nearly two decades prior, comprised
of several phases, including the construction of Lamplighter Park and
the concrete tiers that step down to the river.
The last phase of the project plans to extend the brick and concrete
walkway from Vernon Street in the west end of the city to just beyond
the Ohio River Bridge in the east. An earth stabilization process east
of the point at Lamplighter Park was part of the design plan. That design
plan would have included a steel retaining wall with steel tie structures.
The idea behind the design would be to create a green space with a terraced
embankment for the enjoyment of walkway users.
The design approval process became stalled at the state
level, while at the same time construction costs were increasing. Armstrong
said the estimated cost for the project came back well over budget at
$2.69 million, and INDOT would not approve it.
Bernie Hauersperger of FPBH Inc., the North Vernon-based engineering
company hired to design the project, said that in the original study
for the project, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers had recommended the
steel stabilization as a way to improve the look of the area.
It is a rough area that is hard to maintain, Hauersperger
said. The solution to improve it aesthetically proved to be too
costly, so that design element has been cut. He also said it would
not impact the safety of the area.
Hauersperger said a redesign of the riverfront has been estimated at
$1.7 million. To pay for it, Armstrong asked INDOT to move $500,000
that was originally slated for Heritage Trail to be used to fund the
additional cost for the riverfront. INDOT recently approved the request.
We made the decision to redirect the funds because the Madison
Riverfront Development Project is closer to being finished than the
Madison Heritage Trail Project, said Armstrong. This decision
will in no way adversely impact the Heritage Trail Project.
Armstrong said the city could have applied for more federal money, but
after conferring with INDOT officials who visited Madison in February,
he decided it was better to shorten the scope of work and
get some of the ongoing projects finished before applying for any additional
INDOTs Marvin Jenkins, spokesman for the Seymour District in which
Madison belongs, said, Local officials and INDOT share a common
goal of producing a quality product that benefits not just the local
community but all Hoosiers.
Armstrong said there will be a special letting of funds Aug. 20 and,
if approved, work is scheduled to begin this fall, with completion set
for September 2009.
Trail of Madison
In 2002, a group of volunteers that included Madison residents
Karen Bump, Tom Pritchard, Jim Olson and Julie Rubio, developed the
Heritage Trail Inc. It operates as a nonprofit organization under the
umbrella of the Historic Hoosier Hills. The group had conceived an idea
for a non-motorized trail that would connect downtown Madison to the
hilltop. Once completed, the trail would be added to the list of thousands
of similar trails across the nation that are being built to enhance
economic opportunities in those communities. The group applied for and
received approval for a $1 million T.E. grant.
Over the course of the next few years, the group hired Indianapolis-based
Ratio Architects Inc. to complete an environmental and design study.
The contract for Ratio has expired, and the City of Madison and Heritage
Trail committee members are discussing whether to renew that contract.
by Don Ward
Trail of Madison is
nearly complete, starting here
from the hilltop with a paved
path to the downtown.
Officials said there were some issues with completing
the design study. The environmental study was not as complete
as we had earlier thought, said Heritage Trail President Tom Pritchard.
Ratio Architects was in charge of coordinating it.
Currently, the environmental study for the trail is awaiting INDOT approval.
Jim Olson, treasurer for Heritage Trail, said Ratio Architects was paid
$50,000 for its work on the project. That money was part of the matching
funds collected for the 80-20 matching funds T.E. grant.
At this point, we have used only matching funds for the project,
Olson said. We have not yet used any federal money. Those funds
will be used for property acquisition, easement rights and actual construction
costs when the trail is extended on the hilltop from Madison State Hospital
The trail continues along Ruckers Sports Complex to the pedestrian entrance
to Clifty Falls State Park.
Already, a small, 3/4-mile section of the hilltop section, which runs
from the Madison State Hospital to Crooked Creek, is paved and being
used by walkers and cyclists. A temporary wooden bridge has been constructed
over the Madison Railroads Crooked Creek Bridge that allows hikers
to cross over crooked creek.
Cathy Hale, president of Madison Railroad, said the temporary bridge
will eventually have to come down because of concerns over the integrity
of the railroads historic stone arch bridge.
We had a bridge inspection team look at the wooden structure and
fencing placed over the stone arch. They recommended the fence and bridge
be removed to prevent damage to the integrity of the historic arch.
Olson said Heritage Trail Inc. has acquired a historic, 1885-iron bridge
from Washington County, Ind., from Jim Barker and Associates. The bridge,
currently in storage, will eventually erected over Crooked Creek and
the temporary bridge will be taken down.
We are expecting a cost estimate for construction of the bridge
from Barker, said Olson. We are hoping to construct the
bridge using community donations.
The trail project had become stalled due to a property rights dispute
at the edge of Crooked Creek. But Pritchard said that issue appears
to be resolving itself, and the trail will be routed over newly acquired
Olson said $40,000 was used to buy Millie Daileys property at
the edge of Crooked Creek. Dailey will be allowed to continue to live
on the property for as long as she lives.
Olson said the diversion of federal funds away from the Heritage Trail
to the Riverfront Development should not be a problem. We will
hopefully have the project completed in the next few years, but these
things take time and money.
Recently, Bump and Rubio resigned from the Heritage Trail leadership
due to other commitments. Pritchard and Olson have retained
their current roles in the Heritage Trail and are looking to bring
some fresh minds and insight into the project, according to Pritchard.
Olson said he would like to see Bob Greene, a Madison volunteer who
played a key role in developing the riverfront portion of the trail,
become involved in more of an official capacity.
Greene has put new life into the project, said Olson. Green
has recently been instrumental in helping to develop other landmarks
adjoining the trail, including historic cat steps leading up the hill
from the river and the historic Madison Railroad Incline.
Before former Madison Mayor Al Huntington left office,
he directed a plan to create Madison Bicentennial Park on the riverfront.
The goal was to complete the project in time for the citys June
2009 Bicentennial Celebration.
The park was going to be a gift from the city to itself,
Huntington said in a July 22 telephone interview.
Design components of the park included public restrooms, an amphitheater
with a terraced lawn, a splash park for children, an ice skating rink
and other upgrades for the area. We expected to complete the project
in phases because we knew it would be an expensive undertaking,
Ratio Architects, which has done work on other city projects such as
Kings Daughters Hospital and Health Services and Clifty
Inn, was hired to design the park. According to city officials, Ratio
was paid around $300,000 on the project. Initial estimates suggested
the project, as designed by Ratio, would cost $3.5 million to construct.
One of the first phases of the project was to design public restrooms
along the riverfront. They were supposed to be in place by 2007 but
were stalled because of disagreement over style, cost and location.
The original estimate for those restrooms came in at $690,000.
At a public meeting in 2006 in which Ratio presented its plan at City
Hall, city officials debated the issue of building a more ornate restroom
vs. a more practical, affordable one.
In the end, Huntington asked the architects to rework the design into
a more affordable plan. The cost was too high, and the style was
too high, said Huntington. We told them to scale back.
Huntington left office before a decision was made to proceed with the
restrooms. To date, they have not been built or even started.
The restrooms are essential for the riverfront, Huntington
said. It is certainly a do-able project that I hope will get completed.
Armstrong said his administration has scaled back plans for Madison
Bicentennial Park because of cost concerns and the current economic
climate. We will have Madison Bicentennial Park, and we will have
restrooms in the park, he said. We simply do not have the
funds to add all of the design elements that were originally conceived.
Armstrong has directed his own staff to design plans for the restrooms.
After Madisons Ribberfest festival is over in mid-August, Armstrong
said more than 7,000 cubic yards of dirt will be hauled from the Madison
Business Park on the hilltop to Madison Bicentennial Park to create
the terraced lawn. It will cost the city $24,000 to move the dirt, he
Hre hopes to have the restrooms built in the park by spring 2009. The
design and style of the restrooms will be simple but appropriate for
the history of the area, he said.
In the meantime, he has applied for $3.5 million in congressional appropriations
through Rep. Baron Hills office. We dont know if we
will get those funds, but if we do, then we will use them to add additional
elements to Madison Bicentennial Park, like an amphitheatre structure
and upgraded landscaping.
Katie Moreau, press secretary for Congressman Hill, said the appropriations
request has been submitted to a subcommittee of the Interior. Chances
are slim the money will be approved this year, but we will keep pushing
to get those funds in the future, she said.
Mayor Armstrong said the citys plan to implement
a sidewalk along Michigan Road to Clifty Drive is in the works.
At this point, we are getting easement rights signed and working
with engineers on the project, he said.
Construction on the project could begin next year if the T.E. grant
funds are let in the spring. Original plans called for the sidewalk
to run from State Street to Clifty Drive, but Armstrong said building
materials may force planners to scale back.
Our goal is to put in a sidewalk to Green Road, but it may not
get that far because of increased cost.
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