Chelsea Schneider, Municipal Innovations Specialist

As a finalist in a national innovation competition, Madison recently completed a new trail segment on a popular hillside and is revitalizing an influential street in its historic downtown.

In 2016, Madison was named a finalist in the America’s Best Communities program. Its success in the competition jump started a fresh round of projects and community planning in the southeastern Indiana city that boasts a vibrant downtown and Clifty Falls State Park. This year, Madison is a finalist in Indiana’s Stellar Communities program where designated cities and towns receive funding for a variety of community development projects.

“We have a little bit of everything going on here,” Madison Mayor Damon Welch said.

The trail extension runs across Hatcher Hill and repurposes a road shuttered since the 1980s into a bicycle/pedestrian trail. The project represents a major step toward a long-term goal of constructing a trail loop around Madison.

As for Mulberry Street, the city is revitalizing a corridor that once served as a central focus of downtown. The city engaged business and property owners to re-imagine the street and repaired sidewalks. Madison also received a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to repair building facades as a next step in reinvigorating the neighborhood. City leaders expect the public investment to spur private investment with Mulberry serving as an important connection between the riverfront and Hatcher Hill.

“I feel like Madison always takes advantage of the trends in our culture today,” Welch said. “It used to be someone would go find a job first or they would live where the jobs were. That’s not necessarily true anymore, especially millennials, they are looking for a place to live first. We feel like Madison is able to connect with those people.”

Along with quality-of-life initiatives, Madison is preparing for a transformative road project. The city is working with the state to realign the gateway into Indiana from the newly-rebuilt Milton-Madison Bridge. Currently, motorists are forced to do three 90-degree turns once off the bridge. The project, expected to begin in 2018, will create a straight shot into Main Street.

In the same way America’s Best Communities brought the city together, the Stellar application is another unifying goal for Madison. The city joins Greenburg and Vincennes as a finalist in the division for larger communities.

“We’re going to be able to move forward and do a lot of exciting things over the next few years,” said Andrew Forrester, Madison’s community relations director.

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