Efforts to improve the city of Madison moved forward Monday with the awarding of two contracts to Ratio Architects of Indianapolis to design two separate projects that are part of Mayor Bob Courtney’s previously announced Clean-Safe-Beautiful initiative.

At Monday’s Board of Public Works meeting, a contract of $55,000 was awarded to design a Welcome Center at the city’s gateway coming off the Milton-Madison Bridge and a contract of $60,000 was awarded to design improvements to the parking lot on northeast corner of Mulberry and Second streets.

Design work on the Welcome Center will begin after the city completes purchase of two parcels of land west of Harrison Street that are collectively being called “The 421 Comfort Station.” City Planner Nicole Schell said she expects the city to close on the properties by the end of the month.

Courtney said the city is continuing to look for funding for the Welcome Center. Board member David Carlow said the work already done at that entryway to the city “already looks 100% better.”

Courtney said there are plans for Fillin’ Station Liquors, formerly located in what has now become part of the U.S. 421 roadway, to relocate to the corner of Harrison and Second streets, a property he said will be restored “back to be a vintage gas station again.”

At Mulberry and Second streets, a parking lot that many years ago was home to Volz Chevrolet, is being called the Mural Plaza project. Courtney noted efforts are already underway with the Madison Art Alliance to design and paint a mural that will be showcased on the wall of a former bakery there. Improvements to the area will include new brick paving, asphalt resurfacing, curbs, lighting, paintings, signage and bike racks.

Courtney said the effort is to complement the work planned diagonally across on the southwest side of the intersection where the city is purchasing a currently vacant former grocery store building and parking lot in an effort to bring a new grocery to the downtown area there.

“We’re putting a lot of investment there that will beautify that entire corridor,” Courtney said.

In other business:

• Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Mindy McGee gave an update on a project to widen Wilson Avenue. She said Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz of Indianapolis, an engineering consulting firm, is currently in the process of getting appraisals for right-of-ways, and obtaining what will be needed to widen the street. She said it is anticipated that bids will be taken for the project in July of 2023.

• Board member Karl Eaglin suggested that with upcoming work planned for Wilson Avenue, the timing might right toward considering a process to better clarify a section where the name of that roadway changes from Wilson Avenue. Eaglin said the street name change sometimes causes confusion on 911 calls.

• McGee reported that geotechnical testing will take place May 10-11 in the vicinity of Hutchinson Lane, Scott Court and Industrial Drive and involve lane closings and slowed traffic flow on those days.