I maintain the save Madison theater website.
Part of what I do is paste some of the petition comments into a ticker that runs on the home page. I recommend you go to the petition and read the comments that people are leaving about the theater. There are hundreds of them. We post many of them to the site because they are filled with hope and/or a warm nostalgia of what this theater means to them and what they feel it means to the town. One can’t help but smile when reading them.
The theater is much more to them than an old building and some movies. People write about the need for a place for children to walk to, a rite of passage for kids, walking downtown with just their friends. Seeing a movie and afterwards grabbing a slice of pizza at Romanelli’s or getting some ice cream at McCool’s.
The theater is a place where there is no contention or disagreements, but rather friends and neighbors bumping into each other unplanned as they see a movie with their family as well. It is about community.
Some people even mention the existence of the theater as being one of the reasons they chose Madison as a place to live. I thought I was alone in such odd criterion.
But there are also quite a number of comments that are sad and dispiriting, and some that are very angry (those I specifically don’t add to the site). People wonder what is happening to Madison. It isn’t the town they recognize anymore.
Many chose to live in Madison for the small town feel and its nostalgic downtown as much as for its schools. It is a way of life they want their children to experience.
As we hear talk about how these new condos help the vitality of a downtown I’d like to quote something that was discussed at a town hall a meeting last summer:
“Experts say a combination of elements contribute to successful downtowns. A lively, bustling atmosphere with lots of people is a must – but what attracts the people?
The formula includes retail and residential with lots of parking. Night life that offers several places to eat and drink, combined with entertainment in the form of theaters and performing arts centers, is the key, experts say.”
Ironically, in the rush to bring apartments into downtown for the sake of a supposed vitality, the town will be removing a key factor in what makes a downtown successful – the theater.