The Madison Area Arts Alliance received City Council approval Tuesday night to submit a state cultural arts designation application for the downtown area.

Kim Nyberg, interim executive director for the Madison Area Arts Alliance, said the organization is relatively new to town. But the culture and rich art history in downtown Madison has been around for hundreds of years.

"It's been a part of our DNA. It's been a part of our community for some years now," she said.

The arts alliance wants to share Madison's story at the state level by bringing attention to the city's assets in the downtown area through a presentation to the Indiana Arts Commission. The presentation will allow Madison Area Arts Alliance members to request designation as an Indiana Statewide Cultural District.

Currently, five cultural districts have been designated in the state. Those include the Carmel Arts and Design District, Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District, the Columbus Arts District, the Nashville Arts and Entertainment District and the Tippecanoe Arts and Cultural District, which includes the Lafayette and the West Lafayette area.

Madison officials hope the downtown area might become the sixth designated cultural district in the state.

City officials and Nyberg discussed the boundaries of the downtown cultural district during the meeting. The resolution had included boundaries of Cragmont to Ferry streets and Milton Street to Vaughn Drive.

But council members asked if the boundaries could include areas farther west than Cragmont Street.

Councilman Pete Backus noted there were points of interest on the west end of town past Cragmont Street, including the railroad incline.

Prior to unanimously passing the resolution, council members approved an amendment to the measure to include the areas between the corporate limits to the east and the corporate limits to the west in the cultural district.

Nyberg said the city could recommend limits, but the state organization might redefine the cultural district area during the designation process.

Councilman Jim Lee said the designation is something the city has wanted to achieve for a while.

"I know this is something the community has wanted to do for a long time," Lee said.

In other business:

• Council members unanimously approved the third readings of an ordinance amending the street and sidewalk guidelines and an ordinance amending the city's zoning map.

• Madison resident Marci Jones brought pictures to the meeting to make council members aware of a utility pole replacement in front of her downtown home. Jones said she left for vacation earlier this summer and returned to a new - and much larger - utility pole in front of her historic home.

A large control panel was recently added to the pole at about eye level, she said.

Jones also noted that the old pole had been left behind when the new utility pole was installed. After calls to Duke Energy and Pike, who installed the poles, the old utility pole was removed.

She wasn't sure if the City Council might be able to help remedy the situation, but she hoped to warn the Council of other replacements that might be happening in the downtown area.

"I don't want this," she said. "I don't think we want this for downtown."
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