This is a printer-friendly version of an article from

02/02/2022 07:00 AM

Something Worth Looking At

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the Town of Madison will hold a referendum that includes voting on the Academy School project downtown adjacent to the Town Green.

Something must be done with the former Academy School—we can all agree on that point. However, before we erect an even larger pile of brick and mortar, let’s consider the option of not renovating, but rather tearing down a building that has stood vacant for more than a decade. The estimated cost of constructing the new community center ranges from $14 million to more than $16 million. While our town government proposes that we take on more debt to foot this bill, little is mentioned about the ongoing costs of running such a structure as a going concern. I believe the cost will be astronomical, and undoubtedly result in successive tax increases.

Many will claim they don’t mind paying for such tax increases, and I understand that. Nevertheless, if we’re to increase our taxes, let it be for something worth looking at, rather than a massive heap of municipal construction materials—a structure that will undoubtedly obscure the beauty and charm of our historic downtown. That’s why I propose we tear down the Academy School and, for a fraction of the cost, either expand the Town Green or design and construct a conservatory garden.

If my taxes are to increase to resolve the Academy School dilemma, let it be for a beautiful garden designed by a local landscape architect. It will cost less to create, and less to maintain. It will improve our landscape, rather than destroy it. The only thing it won’t do is reward a builder with a multi-million-dollar construction contract. I encourage the residents of Madison to show up to vote at the referendum and write in “green space” or “public garden.”

Will Braun