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Making a Connection

Madison Main Street Program’s alley project is taking shape

The goal is to create an artful pedestrian walk to parking lot

 


 
(October 2015)
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Don Ward

A new attraction is taking shape on Main Street in Madison, Ind. Construction workers from the locally based Teton Corp. in mid-September began tearing out the existing asphalt in the alley between the Subway Sandwich Shop and Off Broadway Tap Room. Soon, they will begin laying a new aggregate type of surface, bricks, light posts and electrical lines to light up the narrow space as a pedestrian-only lane.

The idea of the $100,000 Alley Activation Project is to connect Main Street with the large parking lot on Second Street and do so in a fashion that is both attractive and convenient. The project also offers a great opportunity to showcase the arts, says Madison Main Street Program Director Whitney Wyatt.
“We hope to resurface the area with something besides asphalt and provide seating and eventually have some type of art installation there,” Wyatt said. “There will be lighting and a gateway at the entrance to Main Street. Later, we hope to fundraise to obtain money for the artwork. We want it to highlight the arts.”
The Main Street Program teamed with the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County, and the Jefferson County Board of Tourism to raise the necessary $15,000 toward the required $50,000 matching grant to become eligible to receive $50,000 from Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs and the Indiana Tourism Office to create a pedestrian art space in an alley. The City of Madison provided $35,000 and Vectren Energy donated $10,000 to make up the $50,000 match.

Photo by Don Ward

Work began in mid-September on the Alley Activation Project.

Engineering plans for the alley were created by Gresham Smith & Partners in Louisville, Ky. They call for steel archways to be erected at both ends of the alley, some benches and tables to be placed along the path, according to Andrew Forrester, the City of Madison’s Community Relations Director.
“Due to our budget restrictions for the project, we had to scale down the number of benches and tables we initially wanted, but we were able to get a good start on it,” Forrester said. “We hope that by draping some lights from building to building it will create a café-type atmosphere.”
The steel archways are being created by Doug Helton’s Madison Iron Works, located on West Main Street. No name is being carved into the archways at this point because the alley has no name. Forrester said the alley committee members plan to initiate an alley naming contest in the future. They also have contacted the local high school art departments to possibly have students submit art pieces for the alley.
Forrester said the cities of Columbus and Fishers in Indiana recently created similar alley projects. “It’s becoming a popular thing to do if you have the right situation.”
To help raise money for public artwork, Forrester said the committee is considering selling sponsorships on the bricks and benches, similar to the program that has been done along the Madison riverfront sidewalk.
Madison artist Eric Phagan said he was contacted by Main Street Program officials during the early stages of the project about his art ideas for the alley. “I would have liked to see them incorporate art into the project as they were building it and not to just add art to decorate it after it’s done,” Phagan said. “But either way, as long as art is part of it I think it’s a good thing. It’s better than what we had before.”

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.

 

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