After being chosen to receive funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Madison is beginning to develop plans to extend East Campus Mall to Lake Monona.
Plans to use the funding from the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals Program include significant changes for pedestrian and bicycle improvements, the addition of green infrastructure and other changes to the Triangle Neighborhood, according to a City of Madison statement.
The plans to extend East Campus Mall to Lake Monona would also further plans to extend it to Lake Mendota, which is part of the Master Plan for the East Campus Gateway, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said.
Verveer said the development of the Triangle Neighborhood could be a possibility because housing in the area is public, city-owned property. Housing in the triangle between Park Street, Regent Street and West Washington Avenue is for individuals on fixed incomes and there is a mix of family housing that is primarily city-owned, he said.
“We have the possibility through the use of this federal grant money to plan that whole area,” Verveer said.
He said the University of Wisconsin has budgeted and is currently planning the conversion of Parking Lot 1 between Memorial Union and the Red Gym into what will be called Alumni Park.
Verveer said it is possible that East Campus Mall could be “bookended” by both lakes.
“Ultimately, someday, East Campus Mall could literally connect Lake Mendota to Lake Monona, from Memorial Union all the way past the Kohl Center across Regent Street to the city’s public housing on the triangle to what we call Brittingham Park on West Washington Avenue on Monona Bay,” Verveer said.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said he sees several concerns with the project. He said it will be interesting to see what residents have to say and that he expects a great deal of public input because of the low-income housing neighborhood that the plan would go through.
Resnick said the plan creates a walkable path between the neighborhood that surrounds UW and UW itself, a connection which has not always been present in the history of the university. However, that would come at a price to the residents of the area, and the borders could become convoluted between where the university ends and the city starts.
“The history of East Campus Mall is actually a very miraculous and visionary idea; that we’re going to build a path all the way through campus,” Resnick said.
Mayor Paul Soglin said in the statement that the federal program will bring in experts to work with residents in the Triangle Neighborhood and city staff. He said the collaboration can benefit the entire area and knowledge gained from these developments can improve other parts of Madison as well.
Ald. Sue Ellingson, District 13, said this was “wonderful news” for her district in the statement.
“The targeted area houses a diverse population and landscape and I look forward to working with federal experts, city staff and residents of the area to develop a greener and healthier neighborhood,” Ellingson said. “We have some great projects in place and I hope we can build on them.”