Law Park - Preliminary Report

Last Updated: 06/14/2019


Project Background

Law Park is a 4.7-acre green space that offers over 2,500 feet of shoreline three blocks from the Capitol Square. The park was originally conceived in 1911 by John Nolen in his seminal plan, Madison: A Model City. In his plan, Nolen envisioned a 5,000 ft. long waterfront esplanade that connected the lake to the Capitol and surrounding community. In 1943, a greatly reduced park was constructed on filled land establishing the park’s current extents. Although the park provides a linear connection along the south edge of the isthmus, the shoreline green space is isolated from the greater downtown area by a six-lane highway, railroad corridor and approximately 35 ft. of elevation change. Access points to the park are limited to the far east and west ends, with a midpoint connection at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Numerous plans to improve Law Park and re-connect it to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods have been proposed over the park’s history, but none have been implemented. Madison’s 2012 Downtown Plan identifies Law Park as an “unparalleled opportunity to develop a premier lakefront park”. The Preliminary Report project is the first step in creating a signature public space on the shore of Lake Monona.

Preliminary Report

The City of Madison Parks Division is working with a consultant team led by SmithGroup to engage area residents, park users and project stakeholders on future improvements to the park. The consultant team will also conduct a thorough technical and regulatory review to identify opportunities and constraints for future park development. The study area includes Law Park and portions of John Nolen Drive for a potential overpass connection to E. Wilson Street. The public engagement work will utilize a multifaceted approach and will include meetings with smaller stakeholder groups, neighborhood associations, on-site intercept reviews, tabling at larger community festivals, an on-line survey and, later this summer, three large community workshops. Public outreach will include information on the park’s history, previous planning efforts, current amenities and examples of how other municipalities are reconnecting with their waterfronts. Parks staff are currently working with the consultant team on the overall engagement strategy and timing. A  kick-off press announcement with additional information on the exciting events planned for the summer will be release later this month. The results of the engagement process and site investigation will be compiled into a preliminary report and is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2019.

Please check back to this site for updates regarding the project as they become available.

Consultant Team Selection

The City of Madison Parks Division issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) through Finance/Purchasing in December 2018 to select a consultant team to begin the Law Park Preliminary Report work in early 2019. Consistent with City of Madison Purchasing guidelines, the RFP was located on the Demandstar and VendorNet websites under the "Law Park – Preliminary Report" title and was posted for 5 weeks, with proposals due on January 30, 2019. Following the submission deadline, the proposals were reviewed and scored by an interagency staff team. SmithGroup received the highest score following the interview component and started work on the project in June 2019.

Questions or comments regarding the Law Park Preliminary Report project can be sent to: