Survey shows shared concerns, varied hopes for Oscar Mayer site

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By Renee Walk
The OSCAR Group

From Feb. 15 to March 5 the Organizing for Strategic Community Action and Representation (OSCAR) Group fielded an informal, online survey open to anyone who wanted to participate. Our goal was to learn more about what people do and do not want to see at the soon to be vacated Oscar Mayer plant. Thanks to all those able to participate, we learned quite a bit about what Madisonians hope for in the future of the site.

We used Survey Monkey to administer the survey and posted it on social media sites such as Nextdoor, Facebook, online newsletters and neighborhood group email lists. In addition to asking “wants” and “don’t wants”, we also asked where the person taking the survey resided.

In the brief amount of time administering the survey we received a total of 427 responses from over 25 different neighborhoods. As expected, the neighborhoods closest to the Oscar Mayer plant represented the highest number of respondents. Maple Bluff was first representing 25.24% of all respondents followed by Eken Park with 10.38% and Sherman with 10.14%. All three of the neighborhoods are adjacent to the Oscar Mayer site.

Respondents clearly came together in what they don’t want to happen to the property – more than two thirds indicated that they didn’t want the site to remain vacant for years, falling into decay. Some also expressed concerns about a new entity moving in causing pollution or changing the use in a way that would not have a positive economic impact on the neighborhood. Others encouraged whoever ultimately takes charge of the property, be it the City or a private buyer, to think “outside the box,” and consider how developing this large tract of land could reshape our neighborhoods.

Considerably more varied were what people stated they wanted to happen on the property. Many ideas included new manufacturing, tech companies, other businesses, various types of housing targeted at various markets and even an amusement park. While residents might not agree yet on exactly what should go on the property, it seems we all agree that there are a myriad of possibilities.

So where do we go from here? OSCAR will continue to look for opportunities to get community input and to start to shape how we in the neighborhoods can impact the future of this property. We realize that while an online survey is a good first step, we need to hear more from people who might not be as likely to fill out an online survey.

If you’d like to share what you do and don’t want to see happen at the Oscar Mayer site, please get in touch! You can email us at theoscargroup@northsidemadison.org or write to us at: The OSCAR Group, 1219 North Sherman Ave., Madison, WI 53704. Please include your contact information if you would like to join us for focus groups or other community meetings and keep an eye on the Northside News for future meeting announcements.