On the Heels of the State of the City, Mayor Courtney Discusses Current Projects with ‘The Madisonian’


Mitchell Adams

A park bench adorns historic downtown Madison

Jenna Ginn, Staff Reporter

With all of the new improvements around Madison, it might be hard for residents to keep track of all the development plans. The Madisonian spoke with Madison mayor Bob Courtney to find out the new-fangled projects that are to come in the future. Many projects began the planning phase with the previous mayor, Damon Welch, who sadly passed away in 2019. Mayor Courtney hopes to carry Mayor Welch’s legacy and get Madison on the move.

“It’s about momentum and energy and people connecting people to make things happen in an impactful way,” Courtney said when describing his slogan. “It’s also about combining resources. So I think about just action. The word move is all about action and moving Madison forward in a tremendously impactful way. So that’s why we, you know, use Madison on the move all the time because there is so much going on all across town, and it is a very multi-faced comprehensive investment strategy.”

Mayor Courtney plans to expand more of Madison’s hilltop. Lately, many economic and domestic projects have been announced by Courtney and approved by the city council. Mayor Courtney updated The Madisonian on the status of the projects and the philosophy behind the ambitious urban development. Mayor Courtney first addressed sidewalks on Clifty Drive.

“We are making a tremendous investment in the uptown. Right to start with, if you go back a couple of years, we started with the planning on the quality of Clifty Drive, the main highway across the hilltop. The city has three main roads: Clifty Drive on the hilltop, Main Street downtown, and Vaughn Drive on the riverfront. Those are three, all moving east to west. Still, a handle, enormous amounts of traffic from other people doing business here, passing through town, living, working, investing here, or coming in as a tourist, so you know, if you rewind the clock about Madison’s hilltop, you have to go back a few years where we started looking at, what can we do to improve industry growth up there, add more jobs and that’s created by partnering with manufacturing companies, particularly Super ATV, with the expansion of both of their facilities: one on Clifty Drive and one on Michigan Road.”

Madison’s City Hall (Mitchell Adams)

“The plan started but then expanded towards how we could improve,” Courtney continued. “Mobility and pedestrian access on Clifty Drive, and sometimes you have to not think about what you need right now, but what are the needs of a growing community 10 years or even 20 or 30 years from now. Some might say sidewalks on Clifty drive might not be sidewalks that would take you to a destination. You might have sidewalks on Main Street, but 10 or 20 years from now, Clifty Drive can be completely different with how it’s connected and filling in with retail shops and restaurants. Getting around town is very important, whether on the hilltop or downtown. So, a major multi-million dollar sidewalk project underway for several years will finally get bid out here in 2023.”

The improvements do not end with sidewalks, however. There are plans to improve Madison’s numerous public parks, new apartments, shopping, and what many Madison residents might consider the most exciting venture, new restaurants.

Courtney continued, “…We take the most significant undeveloped work, considered a blighted former shopping center site at the corner of Clifty Drive and Michigan Road, and we put together a redevelopment plan for the hilltop that included investing in that particular property. That’s a 22-acre mixed-use development that we’re bringing now that has been a blighted condition for about 15 years, which means it will be turned into a destination for the hilltop. A $55 million new capital investment is going there with big retailers who have never been in Madison, as well as 192 new apartments because we desperately need housing on the hilltop to support a growing community.”

Construction at Oak Hill Park (Ren Koenbel)

While some residents might be cautious of the new apartments, Courtney believes that the apartments, the infrastructure improvements, and the economic development will grow and develop Madison significantly for modern culture and provide safety for mobilization and transportation across the hilltop.

“A tremendous amount of activity is happening on the hilltop, and that’s the thing, too. It also allows us to improve safety. As we move people across our community, we can do it more safely, so intersection improvement and sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, all of those things, get into the plan.”

Courtney then explained how the projects bled into neighborhood revitalization and the efforts to improve the quality of life among Madison residents.

Courtney said, “Then what happens, and that’s our primary emphasis, which is neighborhood revitalization. We did a lot of studies about asset management plans for the city streets and sidewalks. We have approximately 60 miles of city streets and 40 miles of city sidewalks as we merged the data from those two asset management plans. We wanted to identify what neighborhoods were centrally suffering from some of the worst streets and sidewalks. Oak Hill neighborhood is a large family subdivision off of Highway 7, a neighborhood that needs a tremendous investment that has been delayed for 25 or 30 years. So we did a major multi-million dollar renovation in Oak Hill and transformed that whole neighborhood which raises property values, eliminated the blight, and also put a new park there. It makes the quality of life for the families living there much higher.”

“(Now) industry is expanding jobs, and new jobs are being created. They (businesses) want to be part of it too, so now more service-oriented businesses come to town, and more restaurants, coffee shops, car washes, Culver’s, and Jimmy John’s (are in development). There will be enormous growth happening on the hilltop because we started making this essential investment and leading the way with our capital and then attracting that new capital with us.”

Mayor Courtney hopes to continue to move towards making Madison better and more modernized as he keeps downtown embedded in its historic roots. As we move forward this year, check out all of the businesses and improvements Madison has to offer. So here’s to the new year and keeping Madison on the move.