By Tia Lynn Ivey
The City of Madison held an Open House last Saturday to present data to the public on the subjects of “Home and Neighborhood,” as well as “Heritage and Tourism.” City representatives provided information on the current housing stock in the city, opportunities for housing development, historic preservation, land maps and usage, environmental protection, and goals for the future. The city’s open houses are all part of the process of comprehensive planning, which aims to establish a long-term plan that identifies specific long-term goals for the next 20 years. The city hopes to complete a draft of the comprehensive plan by December 2016. Madison is required to adopt a plan prior to June 2017 to maintain its Qualified Local Government (QLG) status.
According to City Planning Director Monica Callahan, members of the Housing Opportunity Commission / GICH Team were present to share current work, accomplishments, and plans. The Madison Planning Department showcased a series of maps with various types of housing data – from vacancies to conditions and new starts to valuation. Representatives from the Historic Preservation Commission and the Convention and Visitors Bureau were present to share information on what local heritage is currently protected and how local assets are being marketed for the economic benefit of the larger community.
“As a planner, I really like the Open House format. It allows interested citizens to come in on their schedule and browse… take their time to discover instead of being ‘talked at.’ It provides information in a visual format and affords an opportunity for dialog,” said Callahan. “Open Houses also give the public the same data we are using to formulate the plan and empowers citizens with information to avoid the pitfalls of anecdotal decision-making.”
Planner Ken Kocher provided the public with information regarding local tourism and showcasing Madison’s unique history.
“It was rewarding to share with the community all the activities the Historic Preservation Commission does in addition to design review – markers, walking tours, history blogs, information panels, building documentation – and how all this dovetails with the work of the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s work in bringing visitors to Madison to experience our history.”