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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Not the time for Peace Park redesign

 Plans to renovate Peace Park on State Street may sound appealing, but the estimated $1,000,000 price tag comes at a time when we should be tightening our expenditures as a city. Expenses that would not draw significant jobs or economic activity to Madison should be scrutinized, not rubber-stamped. From a new police training facility to the Edgewater development to a new central library branch, the city is currently staring down plenty of more beneficial multimillion-dollar projects.

The Peace Park plans, spearheaded by Alderman Mike Verveer, District 4, include adding an interactive water fountain, public restrooms, more seating for performances and a visitor center. Construction could begin as soon as January 2010 with an expected completion date of July 2010.

Certainly more green space in our increasingly urbanizing city is a worthy goal, but building public restrooms will not freshen Madison's air nor beautify its face.

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Do we really need such additions during the tail end of the current economic recession? We consider think it excessive to spend seven figures on this project. It would be nice, but that is no reason to get out the backhoe, especially during hard times.

Under the surface, the plan looks like an overpriced and devious way to push homeless beggars away from Peace Park (now you know where Peace Park is on State Street, don't you?).

The renovation proposal includes the addition of an ATM machine, which would ban soliciting money within 50 feet of Peace Park. The only other legal place to beg would be the 500 block of State Street.

An interactive fountain and public restrooms sound like something homeless people, along with the rest of us, may make use of. Simply because begging is illegal does not mean Peace Park will cease to be a hotspot for the homeless.

If the proposal is intended, in part, to clean up the homeless problem in Madison, half of the proposed $1,000,000 could be used to build a homeless shelter or be given as a grant to Porchlight.

As we should, we give Verveer and other renovation supporters the benefit of the doubt and assume kicking out homeless Madisonians is not even part of the reasoning behind the proposal. But homelessness is an appalling and increasing problem within our city. We cannot ignore the effects of our actions on the most downtrodden of our neighbors.

 

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