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  • “Thoughts While Walking Hatcher Hill”

    “Thoughts While Walking Hatcher Hill”

    From “Thoughts While Walking Hatcher Hill,” by Robyn Ryle, Madison author:
    “All the great nature writing I love is specific. Thoreau is at Walden Pond. Annie Dillard is at Tinker Creek. Aldo Leopold is in Wisconsin. It matters to say where you are. It matters to be bound by a particular geography.”


    Our particular geography here in Madison, Indiana, is bound by the Ohio River on the south, 400-foot bluffs marking the north side of town, and two trails on the east and west that climb the bluffs. Our primary ABC project is the CONNECTOR: the reopening of Hatcher Hill, the east trail closed for the past thirty years; and the enhancement of Mulberry Street, linking Hatcher Hill to Madison’s beautiful riverwalk. Both are essential steps in connecting downtown and the hilltop, creating ONE MADISON.

    Madison Moves!
    A collaborative “steps challenge” during the month of June provided momentum for community engagement, inspiring hundreds of residents to become more active and more aware of the possibilities afforded by the proposed new trails. We challenged the community to log “30 Million Steps in 30 Days!” Madison Moves! generated positive press and a buzz of excitement. Walkers greeted each other with “5,058!” or “Almost there!” to let people know how close they were to meeting their 10,000- steps-a-day goal! This is the first step toward our important metric of becoming a healthier community.

    Residents Resonate!
    While the ABC team has been enthusiastic about the possibilities afforded by the trail, adjacent residents felt less informed and had reservations about trail benefits. To alleviate potential friction, we have met twice with Hatcher Hill residents to hear their concerns and discuss the economic and social benefits of hike/bike trails. We provided them with Indiana State Statutes that address liability issues and assured them that appropriate signs will be posted and guard rails added. We plan future meetings with property owners, who have become our most ardent supporters.

    Possible Pivots.
    Madison is still on course with the proposed projects to reopen Hatcher Hill and reimagine Mulberry Street. We do not anticipate changes in direction at this time, but we have agreed to be open-minded to meet challenges and address roadblocks as they occur. At one point, ownership of a portion of Hatcher Hill presented a problem, but attorneys are close to resolution of this issue, with the county poised to cede control to the city.

    Opportunities Opening Up!
    Groups and individuals are now coming to us with additional ideas about how the the trails can succeed and have long-lasting impact. We have met twice with Madison school officials to discuss how the Connector can integrate with the schools, and a partnership with the junior high PE curriculum is now set to launch this fall. Also, Madison attendees at a recent national conference heard a consultant who will visit Madison in July to assist the community in generating innovative ideas for the revitalization of Mulberry Street.

    Hatcher Hill and Mulberry -- formerly “roads not taken” -- will soon be connectors for people who live and work in Madison. Who knows where they may lead!

    Madison IN Trails Waterfall Cliff overlook on Hatcher Hill

    From “Thoughts While Walking Hatcher Hill,” by Robyn Ryle, Madison author:
    “Every time I walk Hatcher Hill, I think of Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.” I stop to take a breath, and there in front of me is the path bending in the undergrowth. I cannot see what’s around the bend. We don’t know where the “yellow wood” is, but wouldn’t you like to? Wouldn’t you like to be able to walk down it? But maybe the “yellow wood” is not one particular wood Frost traveled. Maybe it is many . . . .”

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