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Madison Annexes Land on Southwest Edge of City to Move City Hall, Police As Far as Possible from Public

“Appearances matter”, wrote Mary Gales Askren when she reported on the $5,000 grants the Lake Area Improvement Corporation has been handing out to downtown businesses in Madison to spiff up Egan Avenue, my hometown’s Main Street (which Congressman Dusty Johnson should be condemning as a “slap in the face” to Madison businesses and homeowners who renovated their façades on their own dime, right?).

The Madison City Commission is giving the appearance that it wants to abandon downtown and move more public services out as far from as many residents as possible. Rather than renovating the current City Hall, conveniently located a half block west of Egan Avenue on Center Street, the city plans to build a new municipal building on land that, at least until last Tuesday, wasn’t even in town:

The City of Madison is annexing property on the west side of the city in order to build a new building to house the city’s police department and other administrative offices.  City commissioners on Tuesday approved a resolution to annex property currently owned by Bill Hyland, which is located along Highland Avenue, just south of and adjacent to other city-owned property [“City Annexes Property for New City Hall & Police Station Building,” KJAM, 2022.09.07].

Madison City Hall, circa 1936; image from postcard offered for sale on, retrieved 2022.09.09.
Madison City Hall, circa 1936. Notice the fire station doors on the west; the fire station moved to 200 SE 3rd in the 1980s, and the fire station was converted into the Firehouse Gallery, which hosted numerous art exhibits; image from postcard offered for sale on, retrieved 2022.09.09. 
Madison City Hall, Google Maps Street View image taken October 2021, retrieved 2022.09.09.
Madison City Hall, Google Maps Street View image taken October 2021, retrieved 2022.09.09.


Madison, SD, from Google Maps, retrieved 2022.09.09.
Red star, center of town: current Madison City Hall. Yellow star: west edge of town, proposed location for new City Hall.

Mayor Roy Lindsay said at Tuesday’s meeting that it will be cheaper to build the new city hall at this location than anyplace else in town. The new city hall will be next to the existing Public Works and Utilities offices and shops at Highland and 3rd. The city may even be able to improve the pond Hyland put on the west side of the property to make a pleasant park where city employees could take their lunch.

City Hall & Police Station Project Update, slides presented to Madison City Commission 2022.09.06; posted by KJAM.
Aerial view of newly annexed location for Madison City Hall and Police Station. (Notice that Hyland himself apparently doesn’t want to be included in city limits, as the southeast corner of the lot with his shed remains outside city limits.) Project Update slides presented to Madison City Commission 2022.09.06; posted by KJAM.

But the city is moving its operations from the literal center of the city to an unwalkable location that lies on the edge of town opposite nearly all residential and business growth that has taken place in Madison in the last 50 years. Even for the small minority of residents who live on the mostly industrial southwest corner of town, the new location has no sidewalks—Highland Avenue has no sidewalks on the west side, the new city hall side, and the sidewalk on the east side of the street ends at Center Street, four blocks to the north. Neither SW 3rd nor SW 4th have sidewalks that reach Highland Avenue. There is thus not a sidewalk within two blocks of this proposed site, nor a marked crosswalk anywhere in sight to help city hall visitors cross the busy highway bypass.

The current City Hall is a half block from KJAM and two blocks from the Madison Daily Leader, allowing easy access for Madison’s intrepid journalists. City Hall is one block from the Post Office, two blocks from the Lake County Courthouse, two blocks from the Madison Public Library, allowing residents to park once and literally run a bunch of errands. City Hall is three blocks from Madison Dairy Queen and El Vaquero, two blocks from China Moon, and one and a half blocks from the bars of the fabled Four Corners, meaning city employees can easily walk to lunch (and that’s good civil servant tax dollars turning over downtown!), and folks doing city business can easily walk from City Hall to get anything they may need to eat or drink after stopping by to tell Mayor Lindsay how dumb it is to move City Hall all the heck way out to the barren southwest edge of town on Highland Avenue!

Plus, for as long as I can remember, City Hall has offered the best, most reliable public toilet in downtown Madison. When you’re doing business downtown and suddenly you’ve got to do your business, Madison City Hall is there for you. What a relief!

If you want to give the appearance that Madison city government is remote and hard to reach, moving City Hall to Bill Hyland’s property makes perfect sense. But if you’d like city government to do its part to keep government accessible and downtown hopping, you keep city government in the heart of the city.


  1. P. Aitch 2022-09-09 13:21

    The only walking I ever did in MadTown was walking from Foley’s at 2:20 am to where we hid the car in the residential neighborhood.

  2. All Mammal 2022-09-10 01:10

    Atta boy, P!
    I also agree with Mr. H. What are shifty little government servants always trying so hard to hide? Or planning to get away with down the road? It is so opposite of the original purpose of We the people. Yeah, I get it. People are annoying when they bug you at work. I used to say all the time at work, “This job would be perfect if it weren’t for the customers.”
    But you work for the people so….

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