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North Frances Street

An ordinance introduced at City Council Tuesday would designate the plaza, known as Concrete Park, where North Frances meets State Street as a performance area. The area is located between The Towers, shown above, and The Statesider apartments on Frances Street. 

Madison could add the 500 block of Frances Street to the list of several pocket performance areas scattered along State Street.

The ordinance, to be introduced at the City Council's meeting Tuesday, would designate the plaza — known as Concrete Park — where North Frances meets State Street as a performance area. All performers and equipment would be contained within the bottom three steps of the existing amphitheater at the sidewalk.

The city allows the use of sound amplification equipment during certain hours of the day citywide. Downtown and on State Street, amplification can only occur in designated performances areas, which require reservations and permits through the Parks Division.

The new performance area would be available to reserve seven days a week during the hours of 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tiffany Kenney, president of the Business Improvement District, said the Frances Street plaza could be used for music and dance performances during the Madison Night Market events.

“We are actually excited to be able to use those spaces a little more,” Kenney said. “We’re in favor of more music downtown.”

The ordinance also extends evening performance hours, starting at 5 p.m., at the Confluence at Library Mall, the Pillars at the top of State Street and 30 on the Square (next to the low wall parallel to the Veterans Museum) by two hours. Performance hours would end at 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. under the ordinance.

Similar to areas such as the top of State Street or Philosopher’s Grove, Concrete Park has had a troubled past, Madison Police Capt. Jason Freedman said. Freedman said problems related to alcohol and disorderly behavior ebb and flow along State Street.

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“People will congregate and if those people are drinking alcohol or if it’s late at night or if they’re engaging in other behavior, there will be problems,” Freedman said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the city’s efforts to implement activities downtown have had an effect while performances and scheduled activities are taking place.

“It’s clearly the case when there are positive activities taking place, negative activities generally don’t occur,” Verveer said. “We see that throughout the downtown whenever special events are taking place.”

However, those positive effects are not permanent.

“The benefits usually don’t linger very long after the events close,” Freedman said.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.