Residents voice opinions at second city Growth Plan meetingPublished 10:38pm Thursday, January 27, 2011
Whether it is adding walkways and greenways to the downtown area, or developing County Line Road, the voices and opinions of Madison residents were heard at Thursday night’s second city Growth Plan meeting.
The gathering took place Jan. 27 in the gym of Hogan Family YMCA.
Urban College, the development firm in which the city partnered, presented information and recommendations about what they saw as the best plan of action for Madison’s growth.
“On retail in particular, the key that we have found for Madison a lot is not within the city limits, it’s in the greater Huntsville area,” said Lakey Boyd, a representative from Collage. “What’s on the ground in Madison is older and doesn’t really match who the residents in Madison are today. I think part of that happened because so many of the goods and services are nearby. So, the strategy that we’re really recommended is focuses inward.”
Boyd suggests “pruning” some of the shopping centers on Madison Boulevard, which means moving them to another location and adding in businesses that would be more beneficial to the area.
“The ones that are going to be prime for pruning are the ones that have vacancies, those that haven’t been updated and those whose tenements might be able to be relocated,” she said. “We’re not trying to push viable business out, what we’re trying to say is that you have a whole lot of square footage and because you have so much of it, you’re kind of moving down the scale to secondary tertiary tenant. So, if you consolidate the space, and prune the space, the businesses have to be more competitive to be in it.”
Stacey Busby, who attended the first Growth meeting, lives in the County Line Road area. She said she came out to hear what had taken place since November with everyone’s input.
“It was encouraging to see the slides and some of the things they totaled and tallied and see what the outcomes are,” Busby said. “I’m looking forward to the next couple of months to see the plan and layout. I have small children so they’ll be going to the new high school, so I was interested in hearing how County Line space was going to be incorporated into the new school.”
Matt Cherry, also a representative with Urban Collage, said feedback from citizens has been tremendous and has provided a lot of information to aid the team in making decisions.
“What we’ve heard and what we know from our professional experience is that the downtown area is lovely and certainly the potential to be a destination, but it needs to be bigger than what it is,” Cherry said. “And so we’re trying to figure what kinds of things to help the retail out, to help it be a destination and an economic area for the area.”
Angel Morrison, a resident in downtown Madison, said changes she would like to see are underground utilities, no more tree trimming and better drainage systems. Other than that, she said she doesn’t think the downtown area needs to be changed much.
“I have reservations about multi-family housing down there,” she said. “I understand their logic, I just have reservations about that. It’s a historic district. It should look like a historic district.”
Residents wrote down suggestions on comment cards, which Urban Collage will put together and locate at trends and general citizen consensus.
Mayor Paul Finley said he is “thrilled” with the turnout of the meeting and encourages citizens to state their opinion.
“Urban Collage continues to do a wonderful job of leaning our community and eventually developing a plan that we all can use,” Finley said. “They have all the aspects covered. They have the visual aspects, the fine bullet points where people can read it. They’re making sure they get to our community with information and allow the community to take what they’ve learned and absorbed and add to it. The finished product we can use, from the budgetary standpoint, to make sure we’re spending the people’s money the way they want it spent. It’s their money.”