City of Madison Wins Stellar Community Designation


An overview of the Stellar Madison Project plan.

Clare Wilber, Staff Reporter

In April of 2011, a letter of interest was put in by the city of Madison to America’s Stellar Community program reasoning why Madison, Indiana would be best suited to be granted the Stellar Community designation.

According to, the Stellar Communities program, launched in 2011 and is a multi-agency partnership designed to recognize Indiana’s smaller communities that have identified comprehensive community / economic development projects and activities as well as next steps and key partnerships. Participating funding agencies include; the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), and Indiana Housing and Community Development Association (IHCDA).

The Stellar Community Designation, in a nutshell, gives the opportunity to small cities, like Madison, to accomplish projects that would further beautify and replenish the community. These cities have to come up with a comprehensive plan and submit it to the Stellar Community program for consideration to receive funds for various beautification projects within the lucky, winning community.

Madison submitted a plan that was centered around the theme “One Madison.” The theme was created after realizing how much uptown Madison depends on downtown Madison and vice versa. The projects that were included in the plan had the acronym M.A.D.I.S.O.N. with each letter standing for a different project in the plan. M stands for multi-model pathways, A stands for adaptive reuse of historic properties, D stands for destination development, I stands for inviting gateways, S stands for student-community initiatives, O stands for overhauled corridors, and N stands for neighborhood revitalization.

A mock-up of the plan to improve a park on N. Gate Rd.

In October of 2017, Madison was given the title of the winner of this designation and was able to start putting these projects into action. Stellar projects will mainly focus on infrastructure, such as roads, buildings, downtown redevelopment, etc.

There are many misconceptions about the Stellar Community Designation. One common misconception that some in the community believe the name to be the Stellar Community Grant. It is not a grant. Madison was designated as a Stellar community, not granted. The Stellar Community designation engages in state agencies to gain access to the funds of several varying types. These include loans, and/or tax credits.

The community of Madison has many ideas about how they are going to implement this designation. Each project is broken down into several parts to complete.

For example, Project M is broken down into phases. Phase one includes Heritage Trail and riverfront development, phase two is the reopening of the Hatcher Hill Trail, phase three is to connect the Hatcher Hill Trail to Michigan Road, phase four is to complete the Saddle Tree Segment connecting Hatcher Hill and Mulberry Street, and phase five is to connect Johnson Lake, Madison State Hospital, and Clifty Falls.

A mock-up for Crystal Beach renovation

The Stellar Community designation, overall, is going to improve Madison’s community – uptown and downtown. Hopefully, the two segments will seem more balanced and the restoration will not only beautify our picturesque town but improve it many other ways as well.

Nicole Schell
A retaining wall plan.

Mayor Damon Welch and his staff are extremely excited to let the community know about this designation, and how well it is going to improve the town in the upcoming years.

For more information on the Stellar Community Designation, please refer to

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