proposes Broadway median
also exploring idea of
reducing Main Street to two lanes
(November 2010) In terms of city planning,
a plaza is a natural public gathering place a location to which
everyone gravitates to meet friends, stroll or take a break from shopping.
It likely has broad sidewalks, benches, landscaping, public art, maybe
even an outdoor dining area.
Thats the sort of plaza that Madisons Branding
Leadership Team would like to see in the center of Broadway Street.
The team started an open conversation about such a plaza by showing
conceptual drawings of a landscaped Broadway median at a public meeting
Sept. 29 at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library.
Steve Thomas presented the plan on behalf of the Branding Leadership
Team, a group of individuals working to implement the best of the ideas
presented in 2009 by Seattle-based consultant Roger Brooks and his company,
Destination Development International.
One of Brooks recommendations was to convert the fountain
island on Broadway to a plaza area.
He continued, We recommend that the island on which
the fountain is placed be redeveloped into a plaza area, which will
be large enough to contain events and gatherings. Consider closing the
entire block to traffic and making it one large pedestrian plaza.
The Branding Leadership Team has no plans to close the street to traffic.
Instead, the teams Attractions and Entertainment Committee has
drawn up illustrations that involve improvements to the median along
the entire length of Broadway.
The committee thinks the block with the Broadway Fountain works well
as a plaza now. They want to continue that atmosphere in each block
of Broadway. There would be landscaped medians in each block, with some
parallel parking along each median. The sides of the street would retain
their diagonal parking.
The biggest change would be in the block just south of Main Street.
In that block, the median would be wider, mirroring the island surrounding
the Broadway Fountain. The committee envisions some sort of public art
in the middle of that island, approximately in front of the Historic
Broadway Hotel & Tavern. Brick pavers would cover the driving surface
of Broadway for the two blocks between Second to Third Street, including
the Main Street crossing.
There would be a clock tower or other feature in the middle of Main
Street to signal eastbound drivers that they were entering the central
part of the Main Street shopping district.
The proposal dovetails into another Branding Leadership Team proposal,
still in the talking stage, that would limit Main Street to two driving
lanes, one eastbound and one westbound, between Broadway and Jefferson
streets. If implemented, that would force traffic to slow down and allow
for diagonal parking in front of Main Street businesses in those blocks,
The Sept. 29 meeting proposing the Broadway plaza was not without controversy.
Ninety-five percent of the plan, people liked real well,
said Thomas. The objections voiced were from residents north of Third
Street, who said it is already hard enough to find parking spaces on
Broadway without turning more of it into a park.
Bob Ems, who lives at 509 Broadway, explains the residents of his block
have approximately 15 vehicles and no off-street parking. They generally
use the parking in front of their homes because they get complaints
from nearby medical offices when they park elsewhere.
Ems said Broadway Street is somewhat narrower north of Third Street.
When people park in the middle of Broadway as they do during
funerals, church services or festivals theres very little
room for residents to pull out of the diagonal parking in front of their
homes. Its possible to do so now, but with the addition of a grassy
median, either the diagonal parking or the mid-street parking would
It would in essence make our life more difficult, said Ems.
It probably would be very attractive, but not enough to offset
The committees response, Thomas said, is that they will retool
their ideas to deal with residents parking concerns.
Were going to come back with ideas that solve or retain
status quo north of Third St. It sounds like people arent happy
with the way it is right now, said Thomas.
He said the proposal as it stands now would add 61 new parking places
overall, including the additional diagonal spaces on Main Street if
it becomes two lane.
Thomas stands by the proposal to include all the blocks from the hillside
to the river in the project. Why look at asphalt when you can
look at trees and shrubs, flowers, things like that? he asks.
Libby Mann, owner of the Historic Broadway Hotel & Tavern and the
Livery Stable at 313-317 Broadway St., said she approves of the ideas
to beautify Broadway. She wants the street to be a landscaped boulevard
that will lead visitors from Main Street to the riverfront, and vice
As a business person who has made a significant investment in her Broadway
Street businesses, she has mixed feelings about just one
The only reservation I would have is if they have events with
vendors that compete against business in the existing downtown areas.
I really dont think that is going to happen. I think if we business
people register our concerns early, they will be listened to,
I dont think its going to take away much parking,
she said. The proposals Ive seen so far I think would be
good. I think beautifying the whole street would be wonderful.
Her son, Ryan Shaw, general manager of the businesses, agreed. Anything
thats going to improve the aesthetics of the area seems like it
wouldnt be a bad idea, he said.
The Broadway median proposal will go back to the Attractions and Entertainment
Committee for more discussion. Thomas said public input is still welcome.
He said the committee has quietly worked on some other tasks assigned
by the Branding Leadership Team. They include:
Encouraging outdoor dining.
Building a network of local musicians.
Working with the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce and the Madison
Main Street Program to create a database of available business inventories.
This could help in recruiting more business to Madison by matching entrepreneurs
The Branding Leadership Team meets monthly and next meets Nov. 12 at
the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center.
Back to November 2010