Madison's new Alley Activation project will help downtown Madison remain an attractive destination spot for residents and visitors.

If our downtown is to prosper, quality shopping and dining opportunities must be available. We already have many fine shops and restaurants, but more would be better.

The plan to convert the alley south of Main Street between the former JoeyG's nightclub the Subway sandwich shop shows promise, and, we hope, will be the catalyst for more downtown development in the future.

Three designs for the project were unveiled at a meeting Tuesday night. All three provide public space concepts that will make good use of an alley that is now underutilized. The city received a grant from the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs to start up the alley project.

We share a concern of several people who attended the meeting. Plans need to be in place to deal with personal safety and vandalism if this gateway is to be family-friendly. We don't want to see the alley become an outdoor beer garden.

The next step is to select a final design. The community will have an opportunity to offer ideas for the project through a survey, which is available online at www.visionmadison.org. The slideshow from the public meeting also is available online.

A final concept plan is expected to be unveiled to the public in mid-August. The project could go to bid just weeks after that.

We like this plan. It, along with the city taking over control of Main Street from the state in a few years, bodes well for improvements to our downtown district.