In another move to address chronic behavior problems, Madison may remove a bus shelter at the bustling crossroads of State Street and the Capitol Square.
The city is considering removing the shelter at the top of State Street — an area beset by drinking, fighting, abusive language, littering, drug dealing, prostitution and the use of alleys and doorways as toilets. Buses instead would stop at an existing shelter 250 feet away around the corner on the 10 block of North Carroll Street.
The behavior problems had been building for several summers and became acute in 2013.
Removing the shelter — sometimes used for loitering, drinking, drug dealing and overnight sleeping — would be among a series of moves the city is undertaking this spring to address bad behavior in the area.
The city has removed some of the artistic granite stones used for sitting and moved a bike rack to encourage more pedestrian traffic in the area known as Philosopher’s Grove. It also began an effort to provide regular programs there and at a stage near the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
“There’s no denying these options have come to the forefront because of behavioral issues at the top of State Street,” said Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District.
The City Council authorized removal of the granite stones and exploration of removal of the bus shelter and contracted with the Downtown Central Business Improvement District to coordinate programming.
Initial offerings, a bicycle resource fair and MadCity Bazaar pop-up flea market, proved successful in the first week of June, and Ian’s Pizza began sponsoring an outdoor open mic event on Tuesday. The calendar of events fully kicks in next week.
“Just moving the stones hasn’t solved the problem,” city urban planner Rebecca Cnare said. “It’s a combination of things that have to happen there. We’re hoping the programming plan is going to change the tenor of the area.”
Police also have applied more resources to the area, including recent undercover actions that resulted in drug dealing arrests, Verveer said.
Although no final decision has been made, removing the bus shelter could also bring side benefits, including better timing for Metro buses that wouldn’t have to stop and get trapped by red lights at the top of State Street, opening more sidewalk space in a “pinched” area near the shelter, and opening space for a venerable restaurant to create a sidewalk cafe, city officials said.
Anthony Rineer, who owns Myles Teddywedger’s Cornish Pasty, 101 State St., has a window directly to the bus stop and said it’s often used by people who cause problems. Bus riders often wait near but not inside it, he noted.
“There’s a lot of drinking that goes on in there, a lot of fighting, a lot of yelling,” Rineer said.
The city’s Transit and Parking Commission will discuss setting a public hearing on removal of the shelter, and the Downtown Coordinating Committee will consider a staff report on the idea on June 18.