By Jonathan Cooper, District Chair
This past year proved to be another good year for the Bassett neighborhood and its residents. Redevelopment in the neighborhood shifted from residential to commercial but with no real slowdown and some significant improvements occurred which have enhanced living in our slice of downtown.
The improvements to the area of Brittingham Park at the bend of Proudfit and North Shore have provided a beautiful and restful area for residents and visitors to this corner of the neighborhood. Work by city Parks staff to create a pedestrian connection from this space to Bedford Street continues, with completion of a railroad crossing, sidewalk, and new tree plantings to replace some of the less healthy trees along this walk expected next spring.
A significant improvement in the neighborhood's built environment, the removal of the outdated microwave equipment on the AT&T building at the corner of Main and Fairchild, should be completed about the time this report goes to press. Over a year ago a group of residents of the Capitol Lakes Retirement community began working to get AT & T to remove this outmoded equipment, which detracted from the view of the state capitol from their residences. The hard work of these folks and our alder, Michael Verveer, has paid off and AT & T began removing this equipment at the beginning of May. I extend my congratulations to those individuals who have proven that a group of dedicated people willing to work hard and stick with an issue of importance to them can make a difference.
Other major improvements in Bassett are occurring in that same part of the neighborhood with the revitalization of the Anchor Bank building and the Inn on the Park, both at the corner of Carroll and Main on the Capitol Square. The Anchor Bank project began in late summer with the removal of the parking structure between the Jackman Building and the Baskerville Condominiums and is proceeding with the refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the existing Anchor Bank building, an addition to the rear of that structure, underground parking, and a mixed-use building on the site of the old parking ramp. A somewhat smaller but no less significant rehabilitation project is also underway across the street at the Inn on the Park. This project, which began in October, will ultimately result in the improvements to both the interior and exterior of that building. Of significance are the improvements at the street level that both projects will bring to the pedestrian experience in this area.
The Bassett neighborhood, along with First Settlement, hosted the first Shake the Lake on John Nolen Drive last June. This family-oriented holiday event replaced the previous year's Rhythm and Booms and proved to be a great success for Big Top Baseball, the folks behind the Madison Mallards, who put on the event, for the estimated 70,000 visitors who came downtown to enjoy the day and view the fireworks that evening, and for the neighborhood itself. We were happy to host this event and look forward to another similar experience with this year's Shake the Lake.
Bassett residents held the 11th or 12th annual neighborhood clean-up in May (we've been doing it so long we've forgotten when exactly we started). Each year we collect less and less litter and debris, which shows that these efforts have had a definite effect in improving our neighborhood.
The Bassett District holds its monthly meeting the second Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at Capitol Lakes Retirement, 333 W. Main St. Join us sometime soon to hear more about what’s happening in our neighborhood and celebrate downtown living.