With enough funding finally in place to move forward with construction, work will soon begin on the $2 million Super Overlook proposed by the Madison Riverfront Development Committee (MRDC) on the Ohio River.

The MRDC has now raised $745,000 for the project, first proposed in the summer of 2020, through fundraisers and private and public donations,and announced this week a huge commitment by steel manufacturer Nucor Corporation to provide all of the steel needed for construction.

J.D. Webster, MRDC treasurer, said the $745,000 in confirmed financial support includes $220,000 raised through MRDC fundraisers for the design, renderings and main construction plans for the project. The other funds include $250,000 grant from the City of Madison’s Redevelopment Commission, a$150,000 pledge by Arvin Sango, a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County, and a $100,000 allocation by the Jefferson County Commissioners.

“It’s a huge success story and gigantic testament to our community to raise this much money in the midst of COVID,” said Webster. “And a huge testament to the community that sees the vision of what the future can be.”

Webster said bids have been received for the project and the committee is in the process of reviewing them to determine which contractor will do the work. Construction is anticipated to begin in September and be completed by June 1 before next year’s Madison Regatta.

Webster said the plan to develop the Super Overlook initially began as an effort to replace the Madison Regatta judges stand on the Ohio River, but the Riverfront Development Committee had grander plans. “It quickly morphed into ideas that would be a multi-purpose venue that could be used year around by all residents of Madison and Jefferson County for fundraisers,festivals, concerts, weddings, prom pictures, bass tournaments, car shows,Ribberfest and just plain daily use.”

Webster said the Super Overlook will “be for everybody, and it will be free” for the public to use. “Every day somebody’s going to sit there,and look at the Ohio River valley, and be in awe of what we get to be a part of everyday.”

“It will be the crown jewel of our riverfront when it’s built,”Webster said.

He noted that being able to use scrap-based recycled steel from Nucor in the construction “will allow the project to be built in the most sustainable way possible.” Nucor, North America’s largest steel producer and largest recycler, operates a tubular products facility in Madison and a steel mill in Ghent, Kentucky, which both employ a number of Madisonians.

“Nucor is proud to partner with the community on this exciting project,” said Nicki Taylor, general manager of Nucor Tubular Products.“Madison isn’t just a place where our Nucor teammates come to work every day,but we also live here, shop here and send our children to school here. This project will be something we can all be proud of.”

Level one of the Super Overlook will be a 4,800-square-foot angler structure to provide seating while level two will be a 1,200-square-foot angler structure with an observation deck. There will be up to nine rows of lighted terraced seating with total lengths of approximately 230 to 250 feet.

“This is going to be lit up at night,” Webster said, which will provide safety and security when it’s dark but also provide a convenient space to visit the riverfront and view the Ohio River.

There will be two telescopes mounted on the top observation deck of the Super Outlook. Webster said multiple donors at MRDC’s 2021 Wine Stein and Barrel event contributed $12,000 for the new telescopes including two additional new telescopes for other locations on the riverfront to add the existing one telescope.

Building Analysis Services of Hanover, owned and operated by Josh Kunze, has developed drawings for the Super Overlook.

A member of the Riverfront Development Committee and lifetime Jefferson County resident, Kunze said using some of his knowledge and expertise to help develop a good plan for the Super Overlook is an opportunity to “giveback and be a part of” a worthwhile project. “This is my home,” he noted.

The Madison Riverfront Development Committee has been the driving force behind multi-million dollars worth of improvements and beautification on Madison’s riverfront since the group was formed in March 1986. The committee started with a brick walkway on Vaughn Drive across from the Lanier Mansion and Crystal Beach swimming pool. By 2020, the committee had completed the 1.5-mileriverfront walkway extending from the Heritage Conservancy on the west to the city campground on the east with additional benches, lighting and overlooks.

“The primary focus of the organization is to protect the past while enhancing the future,” said Webster.

Jim Pruett serves as the organization’s president and John Brunsis vice president — both who have been on the committee for more than 20 years— while Bob Wall has served on the committee all 36 years. Other committee members besides Webster and Kunze include Kirk Grooms and Jeannie Stotts. Mandy Finney is the office manager for the committee.

Webster said the committee members volunteer their time. “We don’t do it for the money or the recognition. We do it for the community, and it is aheart-felt thing.” He said they get the opportunity to “work for the communit yand enhance something you can’t buy, build or create, but you can enhance it.”

Anyone who would like to contribute to the Super Overlook project— or the Madison Riverfront Development Committee in any way — can email madisonriverfrontcommitte@gmail.com or call 812-599-2000. MRDC will continue its fundraising for the Super Overlook and other needs through its annual Golf Cart/UTV Poker Run on Saturday, Oct. 1.


Bob Demaree

The Madison Courier