Oak Park Heights Playground Improvements

Last Updated: 10/31/2023

The City of Madison is replacing the playground equipment at Oak Parks Heights Park - work is currently underway
Madison Parks is working on a Playground Improvements project at Oak Park Heights Park (aka Piper Park). The project's aim is to modernize and update aging equipment and to promote accessibility across our immense park playground system. After input from area residents during two public input meetings, Parks had planned to preserve the older metal jungle gym feature at the park. Due to internal miscommunication, the jungle gym, along with the other aging equipment, was removed on October 16, 2023. The equipment was deconstructed in a manner that makes re-installation infeasible.  Parks sincerely regrets this mistake and recognizes the negative impact this has on the neighborhood. Parks has been in contact with Alder Tishler and as part of the conversation with the Alder, it was determined that the next step for Parks would be to attend the Midvale Heights Community Association meeting which was held on Tuesday, October 24 at 7pm in the Sequoya Library. At that MHCA meeting, Parks staff were available to answer questions and discuss options for moving forward.  From that meeting, the idea of a follow-up meeting with the neighborhood to review equipment options for installation in the playground in Spring 2024 came forward.  That meeting will be held:

Monday, December 11, 2023 at 6:00PM - online via Zoom REGISTER HERE
Please note: this meeting will not be recorded

All questions and comments regarding this project should be directed to Kate Kane, Landscape Architect at kkane@cityofmadison.com or (608) 261-9671.

The City of Madison Parks Division held two meetings to discuss the playground improvements at Oak Park Heights Park.

The first public meeting was a playground workshop held with two other neighborhoods on November 10, 2022 online via Zoom. At this meeting City staff presented the Madison Parks playground input process, provided background on Madison’s playgrounds, and sought input from the neighborhood on individual park playgrounds.
The second public meeting was a neighborhood playground meeting held on January 19, 2023 also online via Zoom. At this meeting staff presented two playground designs from the manufacturer chosen during the breakout room session from the workshop and attendees selected their preferred design and color option, shown in the attachments below.


Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 6:00 pm - online via Zoom

*the 2-bay swing will be modified to include an accessible seat together with the belt seat.  Attendees were interested in swapping the 2-seat rocker for a multiple user stand-alone spinner - a visual showing those changes will be posted to this page when it is available.


Thursday, October 10, 2022 at 6:00 pm – online meeting via Zoom


Please note: this meeting was not recorded

All questions and comments regarding this workshop should be directed to Kate Kane, Landscape Architect at kkane@cityofmadison.com or (608) 261-9671.

Information on fundraising opportunities will be available at the meeting and also on-line at https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/about/documents/ParksFundraising.pdf

For additional updates on park projects please visit: https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/projects

Background on Madison Playgrounds

The City of Madison currently owns and maintains approximately 180 playgrounds across the park system. This does not include most school playgrounds, which are owned and maintained by MMSD. The 180 playgrounds equates to 7 per 10,000 residents. According to the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) annual rating of the 100 largest municipal parks systems in the nation, this puts Madison at #1 and by a fairly sizable margin. As a comparison, Cincinnati has approximately 5 playgrounds per 10K residents, and is currently 2nd in the annual ranking in this category. This places Madison at approximately 40% more playgrounds per capita than other leading communities. Of cities reported by the TPL that have the highest playgrounds per capita, the per capita ratio is between 2.4 and 4.7 playgrounds per 10,000 residents. There are only two municipalities with amounts higher, Madison at 7.1 and Cincinnati at 5.0 playgrounds per capital. Madison Parks is certainly proud of this ranking, but such a sizable system of playgrounds does mean there are significant costs to develop and maintain the system in a safe and accessible manner.

In the 1990’s there was a significant reinvestment in playgrounds to move away from wood structures, which were inaccessible, towards equipment that was safer and met ADA guidelines. At this time, the primary surfacing selected for installation was crumb rubber and/or pea gravel. By 2012, there was a significant need to reinvest in our playgrounds again as many were reaching the end of their useful life at similar times. This led to the Parks Division working collaboratively with Alders, the Mayor, and the Board of Park Commissioners to establish a programmatic approach to the replacement of over 120 of the playgrounds over the next decade beginning in 2013. The Council adopted RES-13-00034, Legistar 27854, in January 2013. This called on the Parks Division to develop a replacement program that prioritized playgrounds based on safety, age and condition in a fair and equitable manner. The program was to include a standard playground equipment package, prioritized yearly capital budget plan for the replacements and equitable guidelines that would allow for neighborhoods to contribute financially to the project.


Additional history and information on the playground process can be found in this letter from Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp to All Alders on July 28, 2019.