There are scores of recommendations in Madison's draft Downtown Plan, which was submitted to the Common Council this week as a guide for the city's development over the next two decades. But there are two recommendations in the 133-page document that city planner Bill Fruhling thinks could be "a real game-changer."
The city has been drafting the plan since 2008, and in more than 100 meetings, residents consistently asked for more lake access.
"The way downtown has developed, it hasn't really engaged the lakes in a positive way," Fruhling says. "John Nolen Drive and the railroad tracks really make it challenging for people downtown to get to the [Monona] lakefront."
A solution the planners devised is creating a "signature city park" at Law Park, the strip of land east of Monona Terrace along John Nolen Drive. Planners recommend connecting it to downtown via two wide land bridges over John Nolen, building a pavilion and installing temporary boat docks, so boaters can come downtown to eat and shop.
Alongside Lake Mendota, planners have proposed connecting the UW's Union Terrace with James Madison Park via a lakefront walkway. The city has the right-of-way for much of this lakefront property already.
The downtown plan will now go to 14 city committees for input before heading back to the Common Council early next year.