Madisonville to reveal its Quality of Life Plan

Next Tuesday, Madisonville’s community council will share its Quality of Life Plan with funders, government officials, businesses, nonprofits and surrounding communities. For the past year, Madisonville has been involved in an intensive, community-driven planning process.
It’s the first time in Cincinnati that a citizen-driven, community plan of this type has been developed, although it has been used in 109 communities across the country.
Not only does Madisonville have a strong history—its future looks bright. The neighborhood on the east side of Cincinnati is more than 200 years old. It was established in 1809 and originally called “Madison” after the newly elected fourth President of the United States, James Madison.
Madisonville’s first permanent settler was Joseph Ward and his family. In 1797, they built a log cabin along an Indian trail that is near what are now Whetsel and Monning avenues. About 30 years later, a post office was established and the neighborhood’s name was changed to Madisonville to avoid duplication with Madison, Ohio. It was annexed by the City of Cincinnati in 1911. Today, about 9,000 people live in the neighborhood.
But in the 1970s, about 17,000 people lived in Madisonville. Flight from urban areas in the '70s has yet to be reversed, but there are more residents considering city life.
“Madisonville would be a great place to live because of its closeness to downtown,” says Sara Sheets, a Madisonville resident of nine years and the project manager for the Quality-of-Life Planning Process on behalf of the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation. Residents can jump on Columbia Parkway or I-71 to get to work and events downtown.
Many of Madisonville’s residents moved to the area because they wanted to be part of a racially and economically diverse community. “I wanted to live in a diverse community with a potential for the future,” says Sheets.
The residents of Madisonville really care about the neighborhood and want to see it grow. Last year, Madisonville began the intense process of organizing the community in order to develop a vision for the neighborhood. Six working groups were formed to focus on economic development, health and wellness, arts and culture, education and youth, built environment and community engagement. The groups met six times over the summer to form a specific plan. The Quality of Life Plan will likely take about 10 years to implement, but it’s a roadmap for what the community wants to see happen in the neighborhood, Sheets says.
The Quality of Life Plan focuses on broader change, particularly on the opportunities and quality of life for children and seniors in Madisonville, according to Bob Igoe, who has lived in Madisonville for 12 years and been the community council president for three.

A large portion of the Plan is focused on education, from kindergarten on up. For example, the Children’s Home of Cincinnati has made a long-term commitment for the kindergarten-ready program in Madisonville. The program focuses on children ages 0-3 and helps prepare them for kindergarten, both educationally and socially.

Not only are there long-term goals for Madisonville, but there are short-term goals, too. One of these is jump-starting the growth of the business district, Igoe says.
Currently, there are about two blocks of vacant property at Madison and Whetsel, in the heart of the neighborhood’s business district. Madisonville residents will ultimately get to decide what will fill those vacant spaces.

“We want to develop a mixed-use neighborhood where walking and biking to restaurants, shops and services is easy,” Sheets says. Many residents go outside of the neighborhood to grab a cup of coffee.  
Residents also want to add new apartments, condos and houses to the town. Most of the new housing will likely be around the business district to enhance the community's walkability.
The meeting is to begin Nov. 27 at 5:30 pm at John P. Parker School, 5051 Anderson Place, Cincinnati.
By Caitlin Koenig
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