Our Geography… Our Opportunity!
Our geography in Madison, Indiana, is defined by the Ohio River on the south, 400-foot bluffs marking the north side, and two trails on either end that climb the bluffs. Our primary ABC project is “The Connector”: By reopening Hatcher Hill—a trail closed for the past 30 years—and enhancing Mulberry Street, which is the link to Madison’s riverwalk. Both are essential steps in creating ONE MADISON.
A collaborative “steps challenge” during June provided momentum for community engagement. We challenged the community to log 30 Million Steps in 30 Days! This generated a buzz of excitement. Walkers greeted each other with “5,058!” or “Almost there!” to let people know how close they were to their daily goal! This is the first step toward becoming a healthier community.
The enthusiastic ABC team soon learned that adjacent residents felt less informed and had reservations about trail benefits. To alleviate friction, we met twice with Hatcher Hill residents to hear concerns and discuss economic and social benefits of hike/bike trails. We provided information that addresses liability issues and assured them that appropriate signs and guard rails will be added.
Madison is still on course with the proposed projects. We have agreed to be open-minded to address challenges and roadblocks as they occur. Previously, ownership of part of Hatcher Hill presented a problem, but attorneys are close to resolution, with the county poised to cede control to the city.
Opportunities Opening Up
Groups and individuals are coming to us with ideas about how the trails can succeed and have long-lasting impact. We have met with Madison school officials to discuss how the Connector can benefit them, and a partnership with the physical education curriculum is set to launch this fall. Also, Madison attendees at a recent national conference heard a consultant who visited Madison in July to assist us in generating innovative ideas for Mulberry Street.
Hatcher Hill and Mulberry will soon be connectors for people who live and work in Madison. Who knows where these roads may lead!