Landmarks Society learns more about the West Washington Gateway – Morgan County Citizen

The Morgan County Landmarks Society gathered Sunday, Feb. 20, for its first meeting of 2022 at the Morgan County Library. Monica Callahan, Planning and Development Director for the City of Madison, presented a vivid overview of important progress in Madison in the last 10 or more years.

Much of her comments centered on the West Washington Gateway and the surrounding residential areas. Anchored by Richter Cottage, a house museum owned by the City of Madison and managed by the Landmarks Society, the area was targeted for improvement more than 10 years ago by foresighted city officials, she explained.

Through the use of various state and federal grant funds along with private partners and investors, numerous projects have been completed and more are in the works, Callahan pointed out. One of the most visible projects is the $2.1 million storm water system and retention pond that serves a third of downtown as well as the Gateway area.

Formerly a run-down light industrial district, the Gateway is a 40-acre area that will now include the Bull Street Warehouse, soon to be the new home of Adrian’s Place and the EZ Bottle Shop. In addition, 65 off-street parking spaces and individual small cottage professional office spaces will be added. A multi-family apartment/condo complex overlooking Tanyard Branch is also in the plans.

Key to improvement of the residential area around the Gateway was housing stabilization and increased housing opportunities, Callahan stressed. Silver Lakes Court, a $6 million private investment, provided 44 affordable senior apartments. Currently nearing completion is Canaan Crossing, a 60-unit townhome complex, which will provide affordable workforce housing.

New single-family homes have been built by Habitat for Humanity and local builder Leon Peters while at least 10 dilapidated and substandard vacant homes have been demolished. Twenty-five houses have been brought up to modern code and safety regulations through the $1.1 million donation from the First United Methodist Church plus additional federal grants, programs, and donations.

“We are also hopeful that the unfinished subdivision near the relocated Depot on the west side of the railroad tracks will see new construction soon,” Callahan said.

Other highlights in the area include the Martin Tot Lot for children six-years-old and younger, land lease to the Fifth Street Community Garden, and improved use of the Pearl-Burney Complex.

Looking ahead, Callahan talked about increased pedestrian infrastructure to include more trails, elevated boardwalks, and sidewalks. She said she doesn’t anticipate “super fast” growth in Madison but acknowledged the need to “diversify our housing.”

Due to rising costs, “About fifty percent of seniors living in Madison may not be able to stay here,” she pointed out. “Senior housing is at the top of my list. There has to be more in the middle options for seniors.”

Callahan praised the many volunteers who work on eight city commissions and encouraged citizen participation in city government. “The future is about community building,” she stressed. “Everyone can contribute – whether it’s your time, your expertise, your money, your patience, or your longevity.”

The City of Madison revises its comprehensive plan every five years and that revision is now in process. Callahan concluded by encouraging everyone to contact their City Council representative within the next four to six weeks to express their hopes and dreams for the future of Madison.

The Morgan County Landmarks Society is dedicated to promoting through education the preservation of historic landmarks, landscapes, and culture of Morgan County.