To the Editor (the Source, zip06):
The next steps in the process of deciding the future of Academy School were advanced by many who spoke at another very well attended public hearing last week: Let us now re-open the public discussion on how best to use this space.
As the importance of this process has struck home, people are now very engaged. It is important we do not move ahead quickly to a referendum (that will be sure to lose) on a condo development proposal, but re-open a process of facilitated workshops to truly empower the many voices of Madison who are just beginning to feel heard. As the group “Academy- Save the Heart of Madison” has made clear- the overwhelming sentiment of citizens is to preserve the land and determine the best public use of the space. Beyond this, many possibilities exist- and the best one will probably satisfy two competing concerns- public use (such as community center, arts center, innovation space, etc.) and cost containment (funding through a mix of grant funding, fundraising, and possible private use- stores, cafes, offices).
At this point let’s move forward with a process to offer ideas and input in a transparent and productive way. Workshops with the focus on guiding public space utilization options with the broadest possible public input and serving the public interest of the citizens of Madison should now be held. Consulting an organization to help provide guidance such as the Project for Public Spaces (www.pps.org), rather than development-oriented firms can provide the community-based perspective we need.
Let us now build a process to harness the power – the heart and the brain power of this great community- to bring about a solution we will all be proud of for generations to come.
Owen Charles, Madison