Downtown Plaza Moves Forward, Named Stone Horse Green

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MTT News's picture
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–The downtown plaza, located next to Village Green, officially has a name, Stone Horse Green. The moniker reflects the stone horse sculptures, called “Herd of Boulders,” that will be installed at the park. In addition, plans are moving forward to start work on the green space in spring of 2020. 

Abby Attoun Middleton Director of Planning & Community Development said the city has contributed $500,000 and still needs to raise $1 million to cover the costs for the new park. 

She said the concept for the green space was presented to the Plan Commission in 2015 and the city purchased properties in January 2018. The city then asked residents their vision for the space. 

“We started with a sign on the property saying, ‘What do you want to see here?’ We held widely attended public input sessions and that helped us to hone in on five design principles for the space,” Attoun explained.

Those principles are as follows:

1. Be a respite for downtown life, and incorporate nature and natural materials.

2. Encourage gathering for all ages in a safe, flexible environment.

3. Serve as a place to strengthen community around music, art, food and culture.

4. Be a source of light and warmth in the cold winter months.

5. Create a central destination to begin exploration of downtown.

“The city worked with Roshelle Ritzenthaler, who served as public input facilitator. Roshelle lives near downtown Middleton and was an early supporter of the project. She offered her services pro-bono,” Attoun added.

The public had some fun ideas for ways in which they wanted to use the space. Live performances, such as plays, operas and musical performances, winter bonfires and picnics topped the list. 

“One of my favorite ideas we heard was to live-stream Concerts on the Square for people who can’t make it to downtown Madison on a Wednesday evening in the summer,” Attoun said.

Once the design principles were in place, the city hired Saiki Design to come up with a plan for the space. 

“In order to satisfy the design principle of being a ‘respite for downtown life, and incorporating nature and natural materials,’ a majority of the site is green. The slight grade separation and retaining wall provides additional seating while also keeping small children safely within the lawn. The theater space will allow for scheduled and pop-up performances of all kinds. The artwork is interactive. The Barn Lights sculpture incorporates artistic lighting that can activate and shine down onto pedestals where kids of all ages can play. The Herd of Boulders sculptures honor the history of the site, which was a horse livery dating back to 1876. The circular pathway around the site provides accessibility for wheelchairs, strollers, and those with mobility challenges. The design includes plenty of benches and bistro tables to provide spaces to socialize and picnic. And the solar panels will power about half of the lighting used on site,” Attoun said.

The horse sculptures will be heated in the winter, there will be a gas fireplace that park-goers can ignite with a switch, and a cauldron for fires in the winter. All of these features work to meet the request for warming features in the winter. 

The city is currently seeking donations, which are tax deductible, and donations can be made at Multi-year pledges will also be accepted. 

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