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In 1991 the City of Madison created a task force to examine the potential and feasibility of creating community centers and a neighborhood-based service delivery system. The Joint Community Centers Task Force, comprised of City, County, School District, private sector and community representatives, recommended as part of its report, the division of the City into planning council areas. Planning councils were envisioned by the City as a neighborhood-based and coordinated approach to neighborhood organizing, information sharing, issue advocacy and promotion of community development initiatives.


In September 1992, the chief executives of the City of Madison, Dane County, Madison Metropolitan School District, United Way of Dane County, and the Madison Community Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding creating the first planning council: Northside Planning Council.


“The Northside was the likely candidate for the first planning council because of a 2-year neighborhood planning effort involving neighborhood associations, service organizations, residents and businesses was coming to completion. The Northport-Warner Park Neighborhood Planning Steering requested that the first planning council be piloted on the Northside. One of the priority plan recommendations from the planning process was the construction of a community center. This plan recommendation became the first initiative of the planning council, comprised of many of the residents that participated in the preparation of the neighborhood plan.”


Northside Planning Council

Since its initial formation in March 1993, the Northside Planning Council (NPC) has developed and refined its mission, commitments and role; organized and expanded its membership; and changed its geographic boundaries. It is staffed by a full time facilitator and part time support staff. Highlights include:

  • Neighborhoods USA Award: Received First Place in the Multi-Neighborhood-Project Partnership Award Category for the Project: Warner Park Community Recreation Center in 1999.
  • Received Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) 30 Year Madison Community Development Award.
  • Major accomplishments: fundraising for Warner Park Community Recreation Center, Troy Gardens project, advocating for a new grocery store, an expanded library and better schools.

Today, NPC is focusing on Community-Based Economic Development opportunities. Creating new partnerships centered on fostering new neighborhood investments, branding and marketing Northside businesses, and promoting private reinvestment and public infrastructure improvements are new focus areas.


South Metropolitan Planning Council

A second planning council, the South Metropolitan Planning Council (SMPC), was founded in mid-1996, with the support of the City, Dane County, Town of Madison, United Way, School District and the Community Foundation. Since its initial formation, the South Metropolitan Planning Council has developed and refined its mission; created a number of special focus subcommittees; organized and expanded its membership; created a partnership with UW-Madison, UW–Extension Dane County, Madison Area Technical College, and Edgewood College, and has given special attention to South Park Street economic development. The Council currently has membership from south metropolitan neighborhoods (both City and Town), business association and from the Town of Madison. It is staffed by a full time facilitator and a volunteer coordinator.


South Metropolitan Planning Council is a coalition of neighborhood and business groups that work together to increase the civic capacity on Madison's Southside. Highlights include:

  • Serve as a catalyst: The South Metropolitan Planning Council strives to be a catalyst, bringing together people, organizations, and resources to build a stronger community. Examples: South Madison National Night Out, Earth Day Clean-Up, South Madison Anti-Drug Coalition, and Park Street Partners.
  • Revitalizing Park Street: SMPC is working to revitalize Park Street to create an economically and socially vibrant center for our diverse community. One of the major projects on the southside is The Villager, redevelopment of a former shopping mall.
  • Neighborhood Organizing: The primary goal of the South Metropolitan Planning Council is to build strong neighborhoods at the grass roots level by supporting and encouraging the formation of active, inclusive neighborhood associations.
  • Neighborhood Connections and Partnerships: University of Wisconsin–Madison, UW–Extension Dane County, Madison Area Technical College, and Edgewood College run a distinctive center at The Villager offering community, continuing, higher, technical, and vocational education. The four institutions collaborate with community partners to 1) initiate and support desired community improvements, 2) increase access to education, and 3) help students apply academic learning.


East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council

A third planning council, the East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council (EINPC), organized and developed in 1999 and was formally recognized by the City of Madison on February 15, 2000.