Downtown Coordinating Committee members convened in a virtual meeting on Thursday to discuss the survival and recovery of downtown Madison businesses.

The DCC meets to review policies and regulations in the Downtown Area, particularly State Street and the Capitol square. DCC Secretary Rebecca Cnare said members asked to discuss downtown recovery plans and progress so far. 

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The committee reviewed the City Council’s approval of the extension of the Streetary program that would have ended Oct. 25, 2020. The program has been extended to April 14, 2021.

Cnare said the staff has been frantically working to put together a plan outlining conditions in which winter streetaries can continue. Area restaurateurs have expressed a desire for outdoor heaters, tents and lights, as well as concerns over snow removal issues. 

“If it’s a private parking lot, for example, it’s going to be much easier to store propane canisters or put up tents and take care of snow plowing,” Cnare said.

Cnare added that sidewalk cafes will have to be brought in when there are snow events. With more permanent in-street cafes, the DCC is working with area restaurants on developing a snow plan with area streets and parks to determine who is responsible for snow removal.

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The council also discussed plans to make voting more accessible in the downtown area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cnare said a total of 14 ballot drop boxes are set to be placed at fire stations around the city, including a drop box downtown at Fire Station #1 on Dayton Street near campus.

With regards to downtown business recovery, Cnare said a new mural was painted by Madison artist Lilada Gee entitled “Masked-Up Madison,” bringing positivity to the area despite its current struggles. 

Cnare said the mural is meant to engage the community as an affirmation wall. Cnare said at the center of this message, a Black female artist highlights and brings together all the social issues Madison is facing.