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Going for Gold

Madison, Ind., moves forward in quest for ‘Best Community’ title

Consultants hold open house to
share ideas for the future

(October 2015) – Now that Madison, Ind., has achieved quarterfinalist status and earned $50,000 from the America’s Best Communities contest, the city has until Nov. 6 to submit its application to continue to the next level. The city used some of its winning proceeds to hire Ratio Architects of Indianapolis to prepare the application. It will likely include Power Point slides and videos and a document outlining where the city has been and where leaders want to take it into the future, according to Forrester.
Ratio Architects held a public Open House at City Hall on Sept. 24 to show off its application research to the community. Part of the effort requires that each applicant show strong community input in setting its goals, Forrester said.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Forrester

Aaron Kowalski (seated at far left) of Ratio Architects of Indianapolis shows visitors some of the ideas that his firm has created as part of the City of Madison’s next phase in competing for “America’s Best Communities” title during the Sept. 24 Open House in Madison.

Madison and 10 other Indiana towns survived the first-round cut from among more than 350 applicants in 29 states. Other Indiana towns still in the running include Greencastle, Jasper, Terre Haute, Angola, Lafayette, La Porte, Richmond, Valparaiso, Wabash and Westfield.
The America’s Best Communities competition is a $10 million dollar initiative to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns and cities. As a quarterfinalist, Madison was awarded $50,000 to further develop and implement its comprehensive strategies to accelerate the local economy and improve quality of life.
Madison will now be eligible to compete at the next level in hopes of making the top eight communities, each of which will receive $100,000. The top three from those eight will receive $3 million, $2 million and $1 million, respectively.
Meantime, the committee behind Madison’s application process hopes to bring all the research and recent studies together under one roof to set a course for developing a Comprehensive Plan for the city. The last time the city created such a plan was way back in 1999, Forrester said. He added that the city is awaiting completion of a Master Bicycle-Pedestrian Plan, which is being prepared by the architectural firm Gresham, Smith & Partners of Louisville, Ky. This Bicycle-Pedestrian Plan is another step toward creating a Comprehensive Plan for the city, Forrester said.
“We need a Comprehensive Plan in order to be eligible to apply for large grants, like the Stellar Communities Grant.”
Launched in 2010, the Indiana Stellar Communities Pro-gram is a multi-year, more than $58 million (investments to date) initiative operated by the Indiana Lieutenant Governor’s office and funded by three state agencies: the Indiana Housing and Community Economic Development Authority, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Office recognized a need for “more innovative, comprehensive development efforts in rural communities in Indiana to meet the unique local needs and make a bigger impact.”
In 2011, nearby North Vernon, Ind., was selected as one of the first two Stellar Communities, along with Greencastle, and received $20 million each for use in infrastructure upgrades.
A Comprehensive Plan is now a chief goal of Madison’s city leaders, and it is the focal point of the Envison Jefferson County project, facilitated by newly hired Valecia Crisafulli. This community-based task force last year unveiled its vision for the county that was derived from forums and more than 1,500 comments and ideas submitted from more than 500 people. When she was hired in June, Crisafulli said the main goal would be the 10 priority items in the final action plan.
“Envision’s priority projects will complement the city’s comprehensive plan, while encompassing strategic initiatives throughout Jefferson County,” Crisafulli said. “The project teams are working hard to ensure that the two processes are integrated and seamless in their implementation.”

An Illinois native and former Washington, D.C., resident, Crisafulli, 67, and her husband, Larry, moved to Madison two years ago. In Washington, she was Vice President for Partnerships at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The couple became familiar with the town in the late 1990s when their youngest son attended nearby Hanover College. They now own a home on Main Street and recently bought a commercial and residential building at 108 W. Main St. that they are renovating.

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