Plan Commission approves Nine Springs park alternative plan

Plan will go to council Tuesday before ultimate decision in May
Scott Girard

If you go
What: Common Council meeting
When: March 25, 7:30 p.m.
Where: City Hall

The Fitchburg Plan Commission approved the Nine Springs park alternative plan last week, completing another step toward the city's ultimate decision between keeping Nine Springs a golf course or transitioning it to a park.

The plan was developed over the last nine months after the Common Council asked city planners to work out a plan in case it decided to change the use of Nine Springs golf course, which recently began costing the city money instead of bringing money in.

The approval did not come without questions, however, with some wanting to ensure there would be enough access and parking for full use of the park.

Ald. Carol Poole (Dist. 1) called it "one of her biggest concerns," with little to no parking toward the southern end of the property and a small parking lot near the current golf club house nearer the northern end.

City planners, including planner Wade Thompson who worked heavily on the paln, maintained that there is a possibility of street parking or working out agreements with apartment buildings in the area for use of their lots.

Thompson also brought up concerns about safety that have been expressed by some throughout the public meetings process, and said planners designed the park in a way to keep activities that could lend themselves to bad behavior in a more visible area of the park.

"All the intensive uses…that could potentially provide these gathering areas…we’ve tried to get them in the northern area of the property where there’s a lot of visibility,” Thompson said. “We’ve maintained the southern part of the park as more of this passive use."

Some commission members expressed other concerns about how it might affect the area long-term, but after a discussion clarifying the commission's only decision was on if the plan in front of them was good enough in case the council decides to go a direction other than the golf course, the council passed a motion supporting the alternative plan.

"I think this plan is very effectively vetted and I think if it is going to be a park I don’t think we could have asked for a better layout of the uses that would be in this park,” Poole said. "It may never be a park, it may be a park next year, we don’t know. But at least we know what the community is interested in if we decide to make it a park.”

The alternative plan will now go to the council for approval at a meeting Tuesday night.

In April, a health impact assessment group that worked with Dane County to assess the community's interests in the decision will present to the Committee of the Whole.

The park commission is then likely to make a recommendation between the golf course and the park at its May 1 meeting before the Common Council ultimately decides between the two May 13.

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