(Friends of Lake Wingra pop-up park station – photo by David Thompson)
by Ben Yahr
Visitors to the annual Monroe Street Festival on October 10th got to experience more than good deals from merchants thanks to a new theme developed in part by Friends of Lake Wingra, Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and the Edgewood College Sustainability Leadership program. The “Greening of the Monroe Street Festival” highlighted ten stations along the street to help visitors envision examples of elements that could be incorporated into the upcoming reconstruction of Monroe Street.
Rather than a simple utilities and repaving project, we believe that the reconstruction of Monroe Street offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn our neighborhood into a vibrant eco-district that preserves and protects Lake Wingra while improving pedestrian and bike safety and providing unique opportunities for area businesses. A range of ideas were illustrated through display stations that included:
- Design Visions for the Crazy Legs Triangle and nearby intersections that show a vibrant Monroe Street Corridor using pedestrian friendly scale and green infrastructure features.
- Zero Waste Stations with receptacles and signage to clarify materials that can be recycled or composted and where to put them.
- Displays and educational materials by the Friends of Lake Wingra, Edgewood Sustainability Leadership Program, WEI, Formecology Landscape Design and the Monroe Street Library.
- Wisconsin Bike Fed Pedestrian Safety Demonstrations.
- Tours along the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Nature and History Trail.
Perhaps the most unique demonstration projects at the Monroe Street Festival were the two “Pop-up Parks” managed by Friends of Lake Wingra and Edgewood College. While these outdoor rooms were temporary, they were built in the parking lanes and decorated with sod and potted plants. These pop-up-parks provided a vision of what the street could look like in the future if more emphasis were placed on pedestrians and water quality features such as bioswales, permeable pavement, or stormwater trees.
As the City moves forward with the reconstruction, it is likely that the first phase of the project will include a small pilot project for pedestrian safety. Friends of Lake Wingra is working closely with the District 13 Alder Sara Eskrich, the DMNA Transportation Committee, and other partners to ensure that this initial project is a success that leads to additional awareness and investment in safety, placemaking, and water quality. Stay posted to our website or Facebook page for upcoming meetings.
For more information about the Festival, pictures, and video of the event, check out https://www.lakewingra.org/greening-of-the-monroe-street-festival
Also stay posted to https://www.facebook.com/GreeningMonroeStreet for updates on the reconstruction process.