Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Can Oshkosh learn from Madison?

While the local powers-that-be are busy condemning a group of college students who want to go out drinking downtown, they might want to check out what Madison did to curb its annual Halloween party.

Time magazine has the story. Here's the key quote:

This year, Madison is tapping into corporate America in the hopes of turning a civic black eye into something its Visitors and Conventions Bureau can boast about.

How about a little creative problem solving? Instead of running to the usual barricades.


Blogger Jb said...

I didn't even see the Time article, but see here.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a "Pub Crawl" around your neighborhood Miles?

"The River Mill Goat Crawl"

Maybe hit Fratellos and then some of the Algoma or Oshkosh Ave taverns.

You have sidewalks now so safety shouldn't be a problem.

How's that for a little creative problem solving?

2:28 PM  
Blogger Miles Maguire said...

Whew, someone's got a bit of an anger problem.

2:31 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Oshkosh could learn alot of lessons from Madison. Halloween night on State Street is just one of them.

I did pointedly note that dollar figures were avoided in the article. Cost is always a factor.

So, how well do you think a pub crawl would do in a "contained area"? might work.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reporter’s notebook:
City swap breeds appreciation for La Crosse
By Samantha Marcus

OSHKOSH, Wis. — I’m probably violating some principle of logic.

In fact, I’m sure I am.

I went to Oshkosh with no preconceptions, prejudices, bias, inclinations or otherwise. Yet somehow I left disappointed.

This Chicago native knew nothing of Oshkosh beyond its famous toddlerwear. As it turns out, by the way, most of their operations have moved to Memphis. So I was a prime candidate for a “First Impression” study through the La Crosse County UW-Extension.

I, and a contingent that included La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Dave Clements, City Planner Tim Kabat, local elected officials Jacie Gamroth, Audrey Kader and Roger Plesha, and a few other La Crosse residents, journeyed to the other side of the state in the name of progress.

We went there, they came here and we’ll report back to each other on the good, the bad and the — you’ll never find that in a tourism brochure — ugly.

I’ve only lived in

La Crosse a short while, whereas my cohorts are lifers or at least long-timers. So I think I offer a unique, fair perspective.

La Crosse is better.

OK, so maybe not so unique.

But rest assured, the grass definitely is not greener on the other side of the state.

In fact, there’s less grass and greenery altogether. You’ll never truly appreciate boulevard trees until you tour a city with someone trained in urban planning.

It’s not all bad, of course. Money magazine named Oshkosh No. 85 in the 100 best places to live in the United States in 2006. But the tourism bureaus fail to mention the city on the water dropped out of the top 100 in 2007.

We talk a lot in

La Crosse about turning around the downtown and breathing new life into vacant buildings.

In Oshkosh, the city is pumping money into revitalization efforts. Residents say it’s on the upswing.

In the meantime, it has a dodgy, underdeveloped city center.

Commerce and growth are embedded in pockets of sprawl. It’s a city without a cohesive vision (despite a city council with only five members).

In speaking with a local real estate agent, I learned La Crosse and Oshkosh are fighting similar geography and topography battles.

We’re confined by a river to the west and bluffs to the east.

Oshkosh, the kind agent pointed out, is crowded in by Lake Winnebago to the east and Algoma to the west.

Growth to the north is blurring city lines, creating the three amigos of Oshkosh, Neenah and Menasha.

The city does offer great diversity in housing. In one city you have your pick of river, downtown, golf course, country club and suburban living.

There are striking, ivy-covered older homes, art deco apartment buildings and polished new developments.

Better still, the schools are within walking distance of neighborhoods.

City fathers made other impressive choices, namely on the riverfront.

Menominee Park is a well conceived and attractive use of river frontage. Further south along the riverfront, the new outdoor Leach Amphitheater shines.

That’s the bright side of the Fox River.

Cross the bridge and the blight side has a forgotten riverfront, crumbling homes, struggling retail and a bar on every corner. It almost made me forget how awestruck I was by La Crosse’s own pub per capita ratio.

Even so, at journey’s end we drove into La Crosse noting every boulevard tree, manicured lawn and kid on a bike.

And when I returned home, ’twas a far, far better rest I went to than I have ever known.

When she’s not butchering “A Tale of Two Cities,” Samantha Marcus can be reached at (608) 791-8220 or

5:31 PM  

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