Madison Riverfront Development

Committee must now raise
$300,000 to match two grants

By Don Ward

MADISON, Ind. (October 2004) – Indiana First Lady Maggie Kernan on Sept. 20 officially presented the City of Madison with a Transportation Enhancement Authority, or TEA, grant during a short ceremony held at the Riverfront Gazebo in Madison.
The $500,000 grant will be used by the city to continue the Madison Riverfront Development Project. This project will continue the efforts to improve the city’s river gateway. Among the planned improvements are completing the sidewalks, installing interpretive walkways, planting trees, plus riverbank improvements, intersection improvements, public restroom facilities and other amenities for visitors including the development of entrances to Madison’s riverfront area.

Maggie Kernan Gayle Crozier

Photo by Don Ward

Indiana First Lady Maggie Kernan chats with Madison Riverfront Development Committee chairman Gayle Crozier prior to presenting the city with a $500,000 check.

“This planned improvement to Madison’s riverfront will continue to enhance this thriving city, as well as tell the story of Madison’s rich history,” Kernan said. “Because of the hard work of its citizens, Madison’s riverfront is a model for community redevelopment and attracts thousands of visitors to the banks of the Ohio each year.”
The committee previously received a $700,000, for which it had to raise 20 percent, or about $175,000 in matching funds. The committee had raised about $80,000 toward reaching that goal. Now with this latest award, the committee must raise about $300,000 to match the two grants combined.
The committee had applied for $1 million when it received its initial grant back in December. This was the committee’s second grant award of federal money.
Several local officials and townspeople attended the brief ceremony. Madison Mayor Al Huntington, former mayor and now State Rep. Markt Lytle and Riverfront Development Committee President Gayle Crozier each spoke.
“The Madison Riverfront Development Project has been ongoing for over 15 years with tremendous broad based community support,” Kernan said. “Prior to receiving any grant monies, the community has raised $1.5 million to beautify Madison’s Historic Riverfront. We are excited to receive the TEA grant for $500,000, which will be used to stabilize and beautify the levee.”
The Transportation Enhancement Grant Program provides for the implementation of a variety of non-traditional transportation projects, ranging from the restoration of historic transportation facilities, to bike and pedestrian facilities, to landscaping and scenic beautification, and to the mitigation of water pollution from highway runoff.
The federal government provides eighty percent of the funds, while local applicants pay for the remainder. This month, Gov. Joseph Kernan announced a total of $18.3 million dollars in transportation enhancement grants for 35 different projects around Indiana.
The First Lady has made several stops to officially present the grant checks to these communities.
“The river is where it all began for us, and because of the river, Madison was one of the first counties settled in Indiana,” said Huntington. “So with this project, we’ve moved it back to where it all happened – the real focal point of Madison.”
Huntington credited the leadership of the committee, going all the way back to its beginning many years ago under then-Mayor Lytle. He named three original committee members, Forrest Douglass, Harold Hadley and the late Georgia Holwager.
The committee raised its initial $1.5 million by selling bricks, lamp posts, benches and overlooks. This is the second TEA grant the committee has received.
Huntington praised the efforts of grant writer Betsey Vonderheide, who also happens to work as the city’s director of special projects.
Huntington said Madison was the first city in the area to develop a riverfront project and has since become the model for other communities, who have followed. These cities include Jeffersonville, Noblesville and Bluffton in Indiana.
Crozier praised the committee’s efforts, saying “We hope to now close in on the completion of a project that began 20 years ago. With this grant, we can now at least see the end.”
Lytle said former Mayor Charles Vaughn first came up with the idea of developing the river. “I remember he even came down here and started clearing brush on weekends.”
Lytle’s father, Markt A. Lytle, a former mayor, and the Madison Regatta Committee also helped improve the riverfront over the years, Lytle said.
Recently, the committee received a $6,000 contribution from the Madison Chautauqua committee. The city has pledged $76,900 to get the engineering started but expects to be re-imbursed from the fund at a later date, said Vonderheide.
A group of Ball State University students took on the project, collecting input from residents and drawing up plans for the development. Since then, two grants and many private contributions have made the project a financial reality. “It’s really a community effort,” Lytle said. “And it’s one of those projects a city does that gets 100 percent approval from the residents.”

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