Madison Monday: Imagine Madison….

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Imagine Madison presentation

It’s still Monday, and not too late to share the latest Madison happenings. This week’s Madison Monday comes late in the evening because I just attended the big reveal for Ball State’s Community Based Projects’s Community Visioning Workshop–Imagine Madison!

Starting back at folk festival in May, a team of students and faculty from Ball State have been coming down to Madison to get the lay of the land so to speak. They did a survey in May and then had a weekend charette back in June where they meet with community organizations and wandered around town taking pictures, making drawings, getting ideas. Then they brainstorm, based, of course, on their community planning expertise, about some ideas for how we could make Madison even better than it is. They’ll be getting everything up on their website by the end of this week, so you’ll be able to check it out yourself, but here are some of the highlights from tonight’s presentation.

Some very simple and easy things to do:

Little signs around downtown Madison like the ones you find in malls, which tell you where all the stores are, the restrooms, where you are. I was in Hendersonville in North Carolina this summer, and boy did one of those signs come in right handy. These would be especially nice for those businesses that are not on Main St. in Madison, and therefore a little harder to find, which is true of some of my very favorite places (Galatea’s Art Supplies and Eco-Massage, for example).

some of their drawing for
streetscapes

Along the same veins, community bulletin boards. Simple, inexpensive and easy to do, these would make a place where folks could put up fliers besides the coffee shop, which is nice, but technically not a public space.

Signage marking the ‘entrances’ to various Madison districts more visible. For example, a sign on the Madison side of the bridge that would mark that you’ve entered Madison, and also direct folks towards things like the historic district, the visitor’s center, the hilltop.

Some more complicated ideas:

Turning the hospital into either a VA hospital specializing in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder or a center for Alzheimer’s research. These are less ambitious than turning the hospital space into….(wait for it) an artists’ colony. I love these ideas. Can you imagine an artists’ colony in Madison? Oh, the debauchery! And if nothing else, these ideals should help get our creative juices flowing about what to do with the huge empty space that Kings’ Daughters’ will leave when they migrate to the hilltop.

Putting large public sculptures on the riverfront where major north/south streets terminate (like Broadway, West and Jefferson). As I’ve written about before, one of my favorite things about Madison are the views you get looking down the streets that run towards the river. You look down a slope at water, and sometimes a barge going by. Sculptures wouldn’t get in the way of that view, but think how dramatic they would look, and how they would subtly pull people from Main St. towards the water. I think this is a great idea, and not that hard to realize.

Using part of the steel from the old bridge to build a covered pavilion for the stage at Bicentennial Park. I love this idea. There’ll be lots and lots of scrap metal when all the work on the bridge is done. How cool would it be to have bands at folk fest and Ribberfest playing under what used to be part of the bridge.

The somewhat out there, like, maybe someone was stoned ideas:

A water tram/taxi on our abandoned rail incline. So, at first I thought this meant a little car that would go up and down the hill, and then also into the river. But no, not quite that spacey. A funicular is an inclined plane rail with two cars that go up and down a slope, couterbalancing each other. A water funicular uses water somehow in this process. Don’t ask me how, I’m not an engineer, but it sounds cool, doesn’t it? And I assume it has a pretty low carbon footprint, and would kind of fit with the fact that we’re on the river. If there are any people out there who are thinking, “I’ve always wanted to build a water-powered funicular, Madison is the place for you.

These are just a small sampling of some of the ideas the team presented tonight, and like I said, they’ll be more available to look at here by the end of the week. What a great job these folks did thinking of ways to help make our already wonderful town even better. What a great job to have, sitting around dreaming up things like an artists’ colony and water-powered funicular. I want that job.

Scott Truex, the main Ball State faculty advisor on the project, said that today it’s not about location, location, location, but about place, place, place. It’s like he read my mind. And luckily, Madison is already a place–a great place. But imagine us with an artists’ colony!

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