While members of the city's Urban Design Commission expressed some concerns Wednesday night about an expansive plan to revamp Madison's various downtown neighborhoods, the principal planner on the plan urged against delay.
"We've talked about West Mifflin for a lot of time and have had a lot of different scenarios," Bill Fruhling said. "We can't keep doing endless iterations of plans."
The Downtown Plan calls for redeveloping the neighborhood around West Mifflin St. and West Washington Ave., which would include rehabilitating student housing and demolishing some structures to make way for mixed-use development. It has been in the works for about four years, and was released last November.
Fruhling suggested that panel members articulate their critiques to the Plan Commission, the lead committee on the proposal, but push the plan forward.
Dick Wagner, the commission's chair, expressed concern that a mid-block "urban lane" contained in the plan, which would be open to pedestrians and allow access to underground parking, would not offer new employment opportunities because of the limited retail space that would be available in favor of maintaining current residential structures.
According to the plan, the lane would also allow for further development on West Washington Ave. and West Mifflin St.
Wagner also argued that it would not be wise to leave the current homes untouched. "I don't think that, other than run-down, that Mifflin has character right now," he said.
Ald. Marsha Rummel, a member of the commission, voiced concerns about how the mixed-use spaces, which could include restaurants serving alcohol, would change the neighborhood dynamic. Rummel also told the commission she supports leaving the 500 block of Mifflin intact and envisions the 400 block acting as a "transition" to Broom Street.
The commission decided to circulate the draft of the plan among members to continue gathering input before sending it on to Plan Commission. The Common Council has final approval.