When Mayor Dave Cieslewicz attended the ribbon-cutting for the new East Washington Avenue Bridge in June 2007, he quipped how the new Yahara River Parkway bike trail would greatly facilitate travel between the Marquette and Tenney-Lapham neighborhoods to the point that someday the two might adopt a common currency. So too may the opening of Willy West in Middleton build a cultural bridge between the neighboring cities of Madison and Middleton. I suspect that, like me, much of the Co-op’s Ownership doesn’t know much about Middleton, its history or culture. This article is meant to help “bridge” that gap.
Although certainly distinct in character, the two communities have more in common than first meets the eye. For one, I noticed that this year the Good Neighbor and Orton Park festivals, both large, privately sponsored local public events, are held the same weekend—a week before Labor Day. Each festival has its own history. The Good Neighbor festival started in 1964; the Orton Park festival in 1965. This year both of them had beer tents featuring Middleton-brewed Capital Brewery beer. (For those that don’t know, the Capital Brewery occupies what was once an egg-processing plant; its large two-foot thick insulated walls and refrigeration system have been well-adapted to serving the needs of a brewery and have helped make possible the winning of many awards.)
Two years after the Town of Madison was established in 1846, the westernmost district was sliced off to create the Town of Middleton, thereby historically joining the two communities at the hip. Unlike Madison, Middleton started as a collection of different trading centers and hamlets that would unify as a single village soon after the turn of the twentieth century. James Slaughter (the same individual who also platted the historic core of Madison) platted the “City of Four Lakes” near the northwest edge of Lake Mendota in an attempt to win designation as the territorial capital. When that failed, Judge T.T. Whittesley purchased the land and renamed the community “Pheasant Branch.” Other communities sprang up, among them Peatsville and Middleton Junction (a.k.a. East Middleton). In 1856, when Wisconsin’s first railroad, the Milwaukee and Mississippi came through, yet another village—Middleton Station—was formed. What is often called Old Town in Middleton refers to the area surrounding the depot, primarily the commercial buildings along Parmenter Street. (One of the older commercial blocks now houses a Roman Candle pizzeria, a sister to the one on Williamson Street.) In 1903 Middleton became a village and “Station” was dropped from its name.
After World War II, Middleton began to develop as a bedroom community, due in large part to its proximity to Madison and the growing advent of the automobile. Indicative of that growth, the main highway leading into Middleton from the east was renamed from Whittesley to University. The 1960s was a period of great growth for Middleton. It adopted a city charter in 1963. (In contrast, Madison had adopted a city charter in 1856). In 1967 Mayor Wally Bauman* announced that his administration planned to work closely with local businesses, noting that Middletonians bought 80 percent of their produce in Middleton grocery stores but purchased only nine percent of their clothing locally. Mayor Bauman wanted Middletonians to buy more of their goods in town, and the announcement that same year that the Park Wood Shopping Plaza would be constructed (the future home for Willy West) supported his political platform. Al Anding, Jr., in partnership with his father Al Anding, Sr., was the general contractor. The major tenant, Kroger’s (a national chain of grocery stores) provided Anding with drawings of what they wanted and contracted with him to build it. Other tenants would include Ben Franklin, Rennebohm, Coast-to-Coast Hardware and 1-Hour Martinizing.
The Middleton Times-Tribune kept close tabs on the construction of the new shopping center’s progress by printing an occasional photo. On February 28th, 1967, the grand opening was held with Mayor Bauman, the Andings, and a host of dignitaries at the ribbon-cutting. Many years later Kroger withdrew from Madison and Wisconsin, unexpectedly dropping some ongoing projects they had contracted for with the Andings, reportedly because of problems with the teamsters union. An IGA bought the lease, but they quickly failed. In 1994 the Andings purchased the lease back so that a Walgreens could move in. As many of you already know, Walgreens recently moved out, in large part due to a new corporate philosophy that prefers free-standing locations.
For those interested in learning more about Middleton’s history, I would recommend the new exhibit “Museum at the Depot.” It will be open during Middleton Tourism Visitor Center hours Monday through Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm and Saturday, 10:00am–2:00pm. For more information, e-mail .
*Wally Bauman Woods, the westernmost reach of the University’s Lakeshore Preserve, was named after him. As a Dane County supervisor Bauman advocated to have the land transferred from the city of Middleton to the University in order to preserve it.
Is The "Driveway" A Board Issue?
By George Hofheimer, Board President
I wanted to write a quick note and share with you a question I’ve received regarding the Jenifer Street. driveway and the Board’s role in this decision. Without boring you with details on governance practices/philosophy, quite simply, the Board focuses on policy and long-term goals while management is tasked with managing your Co-op towards achieving these goals.
Specifically, the Board establishes policies that enumerate long-term goals of your Co-op and establishes limits to how management can achieve these goals. Next, the Board sets shorter-term tactics (e.g., decrease staff turnover, open a second retail location, maintain organizational profitability, etc.) to achieve your Co-op’s long-term goals. The Board then annually evaluates the General Manager on her performance against both the longer-term goals and shorter-term tactics.
Driveway installation and parking lot reconstruction were capital budget items the Board approved for the FY2011 budget, but how a capital item is implemented is left up to management.
I don’t want to leave you with the notion that the Board is blind to the concerns about the driveway. We monitor how management is handling the issue and provide guidance when appropriate. As Anya shares in her monthly update, the use of an ad hoc committee comprised of key stakeholders is now discussing the issue in a measured and responsible manner.
As your Co-op is poised to open a second retail site in Middleton, a bright line between management and governance needs to be drawn. The Board could get sucked into hundreds of operational questions, but I believe the policy approach we are taking is appropriate and respectful of your Co-op’s changing needs. If you feel otherwise, please share your thoughts with me at email@example.com.