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Developing a Vision

Consultants to steer Madison
in right direction, local leaders say

Community Charrette Workshop
to be open to the public in June

 

 
(June 2011)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

Imagine Madison with a grand Main Street boulevard lined with trees and flowering plants adorning benches and shaded tables filled with outdoor diners while shoppers stroll the sidewalks.
Imagine Madison with a central park-like gathering place in the heart of downtown that often features live entertainers and a vibrant Farmers Market several days a week.
Imagine Madison with a riverfront that offers more than walking but also restaurants and restrooms and places to gather and enjoy the scenic Ohio River – perhaps even a marina for those visiting the city by boat or a dock for launching cruise boat excursions.
Imagine Madison with stylish wayfaring signs and highway road signs directing pedestrians and drivers to the city’s attractions, festivals and points of interest – all connected through a common logo and theme.
Imagine Madison with a cultural arts center located in the heart of the downtown district, complete with a theater, tourism office, art gallery and gift shop.
These are but a few of the ideas being studied by a group of Ball State University students who are spending several days in Madison over the summer to survey residents and develop recommendations about how the city could improve and better capitalize on its assets. The city has contracted with Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning for $16,000 to do the study and present its findings by late summer. This is conducted through the college’s Community Based Projects Program, which completed a similar visioning study in Madison in 1986. The study was paid for with Milton-Madison Bridge Mitigation funds.

Madison Community Workshop Schedule

• June 16-18: Community Charrette Workshop. Open to public at 303 W. Main St. (in former location of Kernen’s Hardware)
• July 18: Community Presentation of Study Findings, 7 p.m. at location TBD.
• Information: Jenny Eggenspiller at Madison City Hall at (812) 265-8300

“Imagine Madison” is the name being given to this initiative, which began in April and already has a website and Facebook page dedicated to it: www.ImagineMadison.org.
In fact several students spent a weekend in mid-May surveying residents at a tent provided to them at the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival. While in Madison, the students kicked off the initiative during a “Meet and Greet” party held May 19 at Village Lights Bookstore. More than 100 people attended the event to hear about the study and take part in the survey. The students also conducted about 50 surveys the following Saturday morning at the Farmers Market held weekly at the Broadway Fountain.
Led by professor Scott Truex, the students will return in mid-June to conduct a Community Charrette Workshop, whereby the public will be invited to stop in and view drawings and resulting ideas from the surveys and provide feedback on them. The students will set up at 303 W. Main St. in the former Kernen’s Hardware store building. The doors will be open late Thursday, all day Friday and most of Saturday, June 16-18, according to Truex. He has already met recently with Madison’s Riverfront Development Committee and a newly formed Steering Committee of residents, merchants and government officials to launch the study. He plans to make a public presentation of the final report July 18 at a time and location to be determined.
“We are very excited to be working with Madison again,”Truex said. “It is always great when you are invited back into a community that has accomplished so many of the ideas and recommendation form a previous workshop – in this case the 1986 ‘Riverfront Charrette.’ “

"Imagine Madison"
Steering Committee:

Jan Vetrhus, Jenny Eggenspiller, Linda Lytle, Camille Fife, Rhonda Deeg, Jim Pruett, John Bruns, Lucy Dattilo, Larry Newhouse, Dave Adams, Tony Ratcliff, Jim Lee, Robin Ryle, Leticia Bajuyo, Peter Ellis, Larry Folkner.

Madison Branding
Leadership Team:

Jenny Eggenspiller (chair), Linda Lytle, Rhonda Deeg, Lucy Dattilo, Corey Murphy, Gerry Reilly, Nathan Montoya, Julie Truax, Steve Thomas, John Staicer, Trevor Crafton, Kevin Watkins, Greg Ziesemer.

Since the 1986 study, the city has completed its Riverwalk and Madison Bicentennial Park along the riverfront, which Truex praises as great accomplishments.
“The enthusiasm and commitment to continually improve the the downtown is rare for Indiana communities,” he said of this newest initiative. “It is great for our students to get a chance to work with so many dedicated and committed residents who are passionate about improving the quality of life of their community. Downtown is a destination as well as an integral part of many residents daily lives. So our team will bring fresh eyes combined with community insights to create a strategy together to continue the success of Madison and broaden the opportunities for economic success that benefits the entire community.
“We are especially excited to look at energy saving ideas for the historic buildings as part of an overall sustainability strategy for downtown and the community as a whole.”
This workshop has a very broader agenda as it focuses on the downtown’s future as impacted by traffic pattern changes, need to coordinate parking and and wayfinding efforts, expand the user base for the downtown and consider new uses for under-utilized parts of the downtown, Truex said. All of these issues will be framed in new understanding of energy conservation and sustainability principles.
As a results of initial conversations with the Steering Committee, the following issues have been determined as part of the study:
• Streetscape and gateways;
• Calm streets;
• Pedestrian walkability;
• Inclusive design issues;
• Bridge construction impact (positive and negative);
• Bus, shuttle, trolley, horse and carriages;
• Riverboat access;
• Bicycle paths;
• Second floor usage of historic buildings;
• Riverfront development;
• Main Street parking;
• Cultural development;
• Energy Conservation;
• Historic Building and Green Systems;
• On-Site Water Management;
• Energy Conservation;
• Recycling and Waste Reduction;
• Community Engagement;
• Building Vacancies;
• Storefront Designs.
Meantime, a Branding Leadership Team continues to meet monthly to develop a marketing image and brand for the city, while also addressing similar issues being studied by the Ball State students. In fact, many of the Branding team members also serve on the Imagine Madison Steering Committee.
With the help of Madison City staff and money from the Milton-Madison Bridge Mitigation Funds, the Branding Leadership Team in May completed the hiring of two marketing and consulting firms to guide the effort.
RLR Associates Inc., based in Indianapolis, was hired for $30,500 to develop a marketing brand for Madison. A week later, Hirons & Co., based in Indianapolis, was hired for $24,600 to develop public relations materials to support the branding effort. Both companies are working separately but simultaneously to hopefully complete their projects by mid-summer, according to Jan Vetrhus. She heads the Bridge Mitigation Committee that oversees the expenditure of $205,000 provided to the City of Madison from the Bridge Replacement Project.
“We hope to have both projects completed about the same time so we can move forward with the next step,”Vetrhus said. “There is so much going on right now and we are under a time constraint based on the construction schedule of the new bridge.”
Bridge Mitigation funding also is being earmarked to bolster tourism advertising ($50,000), brand implementation ($25,000), pedestrian and street signage and gateway signs ($40,000), heritage tourism programming ($15,000) and contributions to a “Buy Local” campaign being conducted by the Madison Main Street Program ($12,000). The remaining $7,900 is being kept in reserve for use as a contingency fund.
Meanwhile, Bridge Mitigation funding totaling $80,000 has been provided to the Madison Main Street Program. That agency’s board has divided up the money as follows: $49,000 over two years to hire a part-time administrator; $16,000 for the Ball State University students to conduct their “Imagine Madison” study; $3,000 to conduct business seminars and workshops; $12,000 for streetscape implementation. Beth Black has been hired to serve as the agency’s administrator.
Meanwhile, Camille Fife, a Madison-based consultant, has been hired by the City of Madison to serve for two years as the Historic Prservation Officer. She began her term May 1 and will have an office at City Hall. The $80,000 for Fife’s position is also being paid for with Bridge Mitigation funds.
Vetrhus and others are hoping to launch the city’s new brand when the new bridge opens, if not before.
“The brand and public relations firms that we have hired should complete their work at about the same time, so we hope to bring it all together in a few weeks and have something solid to go forward.”


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

 

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