It was no accident that the City of Middleton was named the “Best Place to Live” in America in August 2007, seventh in 2005 and 4th in 2009 by Money Magazine/CNN, and an All-America City finalist by the National Civic League in 2010.

It took decades of careful city planning to achieve those accolades, including a commitment to open space and conservancy lands, encouragement of a diverse economic presence within the city limits, the embracing of innovative community design, the adoption of workforce housing assistance, and more. The foundation of a sustainable community has been laid through years of thoughtful planning focused on compact growth, resourceful design, and infill development. Recently, the Community of Bishops Bay in Middleton (a new residential subdivision in the works) won recognition for those very traits as the National Association of Home Builders’ Gold Star Community of the Year for plans “on the boards”.

Community garden Middleton Hills

We are a city of approximately 17,000 with a housing stock that is nearly 50% multi-family units. Density has been and continues to be a hallmark of the city’s land-use planning. The city has successfully used tax increment financing (TIF) for economic development to meet environmental goals, including the improvements made to re-route and enhance the North Fork of the Pheasant Branch Creek, which created many acres of wetlands and prairie.The City has also used TIF to accommodate many large employers, including Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC), which provides good-paying jobs to 500 area residents. Economic development has encouraged a broad base of local businesses, from high tech firms like Standard Imaging and Gilson Medical Instruments, to corporate headquarters for American Girl and Capital Brewery.

The City has also worked to preserve the unique nature of our downtown, including the historic Middleton Depot Visitors Center, the Middleton Historical Society, specialty shops and eclectic restaurants, and the recently relocated National Mustard Museum. Middleton’s economic base serves both to employ many of our residents and to provide the goods and services they need close to home.

Pheasant Branch Trail

The City of Middleton is also the “Good Neighbor City”, a description we take seriously. From our outstanding school system, treasured Pheasant Branch Conservancy, award winning local library and acclaimed accessible 17-mile trail system, to the City-supported and nationally accredited Senior Center, Middleton is committed to providing opportunities, information, and support to our residents of all ages.

While we are proud of our national recognition and more recent statewide (Green Tier Legacy and Gold Water Star communities) and local (In Business magazine’s Sustainable Community of the Year in 2010) accolades, the City understands it must continue to innovate in order to become a truly resilient community. While much remains to be done, the City’s accomplishments in the past two years will serve both to guide and accelerate our development as a resilient community with a sustainable future.

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Downtown streetlights LED lighting

The hallmark of the past two years may well be the community’s work to develop a sustainable vision for the City of Middleton and to create a Sustainable City System Plan to guide us to that end. Over the years, the City has undertaken numerous environmental initiatives such as converting traffic signals and downtown streetlights to LED lighting, or installing occupant sensors for lighting in City facilities. However, in the recent past we have also established Clean & Green events twice annually for collection of large and special collection waste that can be recycled or re-used rather than taken to the landfill. We have also founded our first community garden to assist residents in cultivating fresh local produce for their consumption and to donate to the Middleton Outreach Ministry food pantry. Plus, we have added a permanent collection spot at the Middleton Police Department for unwanted/unused pharmaceuticals, so that residents won’t flush them down the drain. A Tree City community for the past 17 years, we value the local preservation of the urban forest, its flora and fauna, and we welcome and embrace a future of further sustainability and progress.

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