food truck? Amphitheater? Native plant?Madison Advances Waterfront Renovation Plan along Lake Monona


Plans are underway to renovate Madison’s Lake Monona waterfront.

Construction on the first phase could begin as early as 2025, and backers hope the roughly two miles of lakeshore will become a more welcoming place for tourists, residents and even fish. I’m in.

Last week, a citizen-led committee selected Denver-based design firm Sasaki to develop a revised master plan for the project. The plan will be submitted to the city’s common council in October, and committee members expect it may receive council approval by 2024.

The Lake Monona Waterfront Task Force gave Sasaki’s presentation the highest possible score out of the three finalists, partly due to Sasaki’s focus on the environment, said chairman Allen Arnsen.

“They really started by focusing on the health of the lake,” Ahnsen said. “What improves water quality? What improves coastlines? What improves aquatic habitat?”

And, Ahnsen said, committee members appreciated the company’s idea of ​​recognizing the contributions of the Ho-Chunk Nation, a tribe that has lived in what is now southern Wisconsin for thousands of years. Sasaki’s proposal included a “story walk,” in which walls and sidewalks were carved with quotes and graphics paying tribute to Ho Chunk’s history.

The total cost of the redesign remains unclear, but city leaders hope to leverage private donors along with state and federal funds. The cost could run into the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, but Arndtsen sees the project as an investment, which he said will particularly benefit the downtown and south sides of the city.

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“The lake is at the heart of Madison, and this gives us the opportunity to make Lake Monona healthier, while also making it accessible to the entire region,” said the nonprofit Friends of the World. Ahnsen, who is also a board member of Noren Waterfront, said. “It will pay for itself in the expenditure of visitors and people attracted to Madison’s parks.”

Sasaki’s suggestions include permeable pavement, wetlands, rain gardens, and native plants to improve and filter water quality. Space for an outdoor amphitheater, community boathouse and food truck is also proposed. Overall, the proposed redesign spans 2.7 miles of coastline and 17 lakefront acres.

The proposed redesign coincides with plans to rebuild the busy John Nolen Drive, which runs north and south of Madison across Lake Monona. Last month, officials announced that Madison received a $15 million federal grant to rebuild the bridge as part of a $30 million project.

Last summer, the task force selected Sasaki of Agency Landscape + Planning of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and James Corner Field Operations of New York City as the frontrunners after 14 companies responded to the city’s request for proposals. Among the finalists, Mr. Sasaki consistently ranked high in community surveys.

Each finalist organization was awarded a $75,000 stipend to cover the cost of producing preliminary presentations. And as a result of that scholarship agreement, the city now owns the intellectual property behind all three proposals, meaning the city of Madison could incorporate aspects of any of these plans. Mr Arnsen said.

The city funded half of these design challenge costs, with the remainder funded by private donors through Friends of Noren Waterfront. In addition, the city set aside $200,000 in local funds to pay Mr. Sasaki for the cost of creating a revised master plan. The Task Force continues to gather feedback, and his next public meeting will be on May 30th.



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