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Yahara Lakes 101 – A Master Plan for Vilas Park

December 9, 2020 @ 8:00 am - 9:00 am


Yahara Lakes 101

Join us for this ONLINE edition of Yahara Lakes 101 to learn about the issues that impact our lakes and hear a brief welcome from City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway!


Register for Yahara Lakes 101


About this Talk

In this month’s talk, we’ll hear from MSA Senior Landscape Architect Dan Williams and City of Madison Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp as they provide an update on the re-envisioning of Vilas Park, located on the northern shore of Lake Wingra. The Vilas Park Master Plan will be a framework plan that will help to inform improvements at the park over the next 15-20 years.

Vilas Park was a gift to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association from William and Anna Vilas in 1904. The MPPDA hired famed landscape gardener (landscape architect) O.C. Simonds to design the iconic park. Simonds’ design called for the dredging of a mostly boggy site along the shores of Lake Wingra to create a lagoon and usable park land. During the same period, Simonds designed Tenney Park creating the anchor parks of Madison Park and Pleasure Drive.

Today, after more than one hundred years, Vilas Park is experiencing its first large-scale master planning effort. Several plans and park improvements have occurred over time but the current plan encompasses in-depth research of the environs and a robust public engagement process. As a waterfront park, much of the discussion has been focused on the effect on Lake Wingra’s watershed, shoreline, and the lagoon within the park. Other features such as the Native American Mounds enlighten users on the protection of culturally sensitive resources. The presentation will highlight the original ideas and design principles of O.C. Simonds and how current community desires and trends shape a plan for the future with an eye to the past.

About our Speakers

Beginning with an introduction from City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

Dan Williams (MSA) With more than 30 years of landscape architectural experience, Dan takes pride in his ability to make every project, large or small, something special. He is energized by the challenges offered by each new site. Dan’s design philosophy is uncomplicated and based on two foundational factors: understanding and vision. Understanding involves developing a solid comprehension of the environmental, social, and economic factors related to a project. This knowledge provides a framework for building an inspiring vision for the landscape.

Eric Knepp (City of Madison) has been the Madison Parks Superintendent since 2014. As Superintendent, he has worked with the community to invest in facilities and partnerships that improve connection to the public’s waterfront. Eric regularly engages with our lakes by swimming, fishing, kayaking, and spending time at the shoreline with his wife, two kids, and dog.

Event Details

This event will be held online via Zoom on Wednesday, December 9th from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. The online talk is free and open to the public. A link to access the talk LIVE will be sent to all registered attendees ahead of the event.

Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/yahara-lakes-101-a-master-plan-for-vilas-park-registration-128866676699

Yahara Lakes 101 Lecture Series

Yahara Lakes 101 is a series of educational events open to the public and a great chance for residents to learn more about the science behind the issues that affect our lakes. Each month we feature a different expert to make the science accessible and interesting to non-technical audiences.

The series is produced in partnership with the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and UW-Extension Lakes, with presenting sponsors First Weber Foundation and Johnson Financial Group, hosting sponsor The Edgewater, supporting sponsor National Guardian Life Insurance Company, and media partner the Isthmus.


December 9, 2020
8:00 am - 9:00 am
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