In reference to your recent article on State Street's block 100 project ("Landmarks Holds Off on 100 Block Decision," 2/3/2012): Demolition of two buildings at the corner of Fairchild and Mifflin streets solves no public problem and confers no public benefit. Such amputation gains us nothing but a private park-plaza. In 40 years of downtown life, I am aware of zero public desire for demolishing buildings for private parks. Such rashness does nothing to help the public or preserve the texture and detail of downtown.
Let us consider the much beleaguered Peace Park: It took almost 50 years to replace structures lost to fire (at least that was an accident), yet even now the job is incomplete, though it's the best we could get. Deliberately removing serviceable, not to speak of historic, buildings is absurd and, may I say, supremely arrogant.
And consider: Fairchild is a very busy street. Nothing about a private park dampens traffic, yet it will very likely attract nuisance elements now clustering only one block away, where Mifflin Street abuts the Capitol Square.
Chuck Bauer, president, The Soap Opera
Re: "The Dead Zone on Fairchild Street" (2/17/2012): The very idea that the part of that historic block facing Fairchild Street and Overture is "blighted" is a notion one would find in few other cities besides hyper-gentrified Madison. For purposes of comparison, I passed through downtown Waukesha three years ago. Unlike Madison, Waukesha has done a great job keeping their charming old buildings intact. Isn't it ironic that many of the same people who rave about how delightful the old streets of European cities are don't give a second thought to the senseless destruction of our historical legacy here in the U.S.?
It's disconcerting enough that thriving businesses were eradicated to make way for Overture. The extremely generic, plastic thing Jerome and Pleasant Frautschi propose to replace 100-plus years of history would add insult to injury. Those who care about what makes Madison unique and appealing can only hope the community is successful in preventing the Frautschis' proposed architectural abomination from being constructed. I remain hopeful, even in the face of numerous money-minded obstacles to historic preservation downtown. Madison, let us not keep bulldozing our most attactive historic districts!
Dan A. Goldstein
Et tu, Tommy?
My first thought on reading "Meet the New Tommy Thompson" (2/17/2012) was: Why does author Erik Gunn give so much credence to what Chuck Chvala has to say? He is a political slimeball, and I am not interested in hearing any of his opinions, especially on Tommy Thompson.
I have to say, however, I was disheartened to read about Thompson's new stance on stem cell research. As the mother of a son with type 1 diabetes, and as a person who is seeing so many lives affected by cancer, I think it is foolish to not pursue the potential of stem cell research. I recently read the book That Used to Be Us, by Thomas Friedman. I think it clearly summarizes why our current political system is not working. We need a new party to represent the values and ideals that once made this country so great. What happened to doing the right thing for the common good? It is sad to see someone who I thought was a great governor give in to party pressure and espouse views that he most likely does not agree with, all in the name of politics.
Laura Weber, Cottage Grove