Madison Mayor Bob Courtney (left) presents Distinguished Citizen Proclamations to Jacqueline Eaglin-Robinson (center) and Joyce Park (right) for their dedication and efforts in sewing more than 12,000 masks to give away in the months since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Madison Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Madison Mayor Bob Courtney (left) presents Distinguished Citizen Proclamations to Jacqueline Eaglin-Robinson (center) and Joyce Park (right) for their dedication and efforts in sewing more than 12,000 masks to give away in the months since the COVID-19 pandemic began. (Madison Courier staff photo by Mark Campbell)
From paddlewheelers powered by steam to modern day hydroplanes powered by jet turbines, Madison has a well-established tradition in boat racing dating back generations and a local vintage hydroplane organization hopes to carry that one step further by establishing a heritage center locally to recognize and celebrate that history.

Members of the 5 to the 5 Vintage Hydroplane group appeared before Madison City Council Tuesday night announcing that they are close to establishing a National Boat Racing Heritage Center in Madison and will be seeking the city’s “advice and support” to make that a reality.

The group, which stages the annual Madison Vintage Thunder exhibition on the Ohio River each September, wants to create a facility where the history of boat racing and its equipment and skills are not only celebrated but preserved.

Paul Nicholson, speaking on behalf of the group, said significant changes are coming to the 5 to the 5 organization to reorganize the club and rebrand its annual Vintage Thunder event after the upcoming Sept. 19-20 event.

He said members want to “rebrand” their club into an organization that “enhances, promotes and preserves” the rich history of boat racing in Madison and the nation through a “dynamic center” where visitors can not only learn about the sport but also acquire knowledge on how to build or repair boats and even how to drive them.

He said the group has learned that it will be gifted one of the vintage boats used in the production of the movie “Madison” and will need a facility to house it as well as other projects the center will take on as part of its overall mission.

Nicholson said if everything goes according to plan, the September Madison Vintage Exhibition will be the final one under 5 to the 5 and moving forward future events will be organized by the National Boat Racing Heritage Center.

The 2020 event expects to have a field of 40 historic boats on hand over the two-day event.

Noting what a positive event the vintage boat exhibition is for the city, Mayor Bob Courtney said he will do what he can to assist the organization and is looking forward to the event in September.

In other business

• Courtney presented distinguished Citizen proclamations to Jacqueline Eaglin-Robinson and Joyce Park for their dedication and efforts to keep Madisonians and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by sewing thousands of protective masks for use by first responders, health care workers, local employees and residents. The two have sewn more than 12,000 masks in the months since the pandemic began.

The mayor said “a lot of heroes” have stepped forward in the community over the course of the pandemic but none more dedicated than Eaglin-Robinson, Park and their families.

• Approved a resolution amending the city’s zoning map to change 416-427 Cragmont Street from local business to medium density residential.

• Held the second and third readings and voted to adopt an ordinance amending the city’s zoning map to re-zone 2311 Lanier Drive from business to residential.

• Fielded a question from local resident Wayne Engle about the status of a project to recruit a grocery store in the downtown area. Courtney said the project is still a high priority and that the city is currently talking with several grocery store operators.

“It’s not an easy initiative to accomplish,” Courtney said. “I think if it was easy it would have probably been accomplished two or three years ago when the prior grocery store closed. But just to reaffirm, it is a high priority and our goal is to have a grocery store downtown by the end of the year.”

• Heard a report by Chief of Staff Mindy McGee that budget planning for next year is moving forward as best as it can with tax revenue forecasts still clouded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has met with all departments and will hold workshops later this month.

“Budgeting will be an interesting exercise,” Courtney said. “It’s going to take a little bit of guesswork because we’re not going to know exactly what our revenue is going to be until later in the year.”