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Madison Downtown Zone meeting sets up protections for longtime events

Madison (WKOW) — City of Madison leaders are debating whether to limit the number of permits issued for big events on State Street.

We reported earlier this month city staff asked alders to work to limit permits because the current number of events is overwhelming for city resources.

The Downtown Coordinating Committee debated making special exemptions for certain events that are already established.

After the Committee met Thursday night, there may be fewer events downtown, but it won’t mean a goodbye to some of the community favorites that have been around for decades, which they called legacy events.

The discussion mostly centered around what could be done to make the proposed ordinance more relaxed for events that bring significant benefit to the city.

Including exemptions for legacy events, like Maxwell Street Days, was a sigh of relief for business owners on state street.

However, they also said that since one of the issues staff had, dealt with redirecting traffic, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a permanent detour.

“State Street is a place for people to collect and congregate,” Sean Scannell, co-owner of the Soap Opera, said.  “It is a pedestrian mall so I think we also need to be careful about anything that undermines the purpose of State Street.”

The night’s discussion also brought up exemptions for what was referred to as “Olympic Caliber” events, like IRONMAN or the Olympics.

The definitions for both Olympic and Legacy events has yet to be nailed down.

One of the stipulations for a Legacy event that was discussed was existing for ten or more years.

Next steps for this proposed ordinance will be the next Downtown Coordinating Committee in January to finalize a draft ordinance.

Then the draft will go to another committee before going before the council in the spring.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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