Law Park - Preliminary Report

Last Updated: 12/04/2019

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The Law Park 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 Law Park.  The study area includes Law Park and portions of John Nolen Drive for a potential overpass connection to E. Wilson Street. The community engagement utilizes a multifaceted approach including meetings with smaller stakeholder groups, neighborhood associations, on-site intercept reviews, tabling at community festivals, an on-line survey and 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. The consultant team will also conduct a thorough technical and regulatory review to identify opportunities and constraints for future park development. The results of the community engagement process and site investigation will be compiled into a preliminary report that will be completed in late 2019.

Law Park Study Area Map

Your Vision, Your Voice!

Imagine fishing, biking, water sports and outdoor play along with arts, entertainment, and food while people and families gather and have fun in and around this downtown waterfront park! Come share and learn more about what Law Park can be. Share your ideas, community goals, and priorities for this lakeshore greenspace.

The Parks Division held three public workshops for area residents and park users to share community needs, explore potential opportunities, and help determine what this downtown lakefront park can mean for the Greater Madison Community.

Law Park - Community Workshops and Open House were held at the following locations and dates:

  • Thursday, August 15, 6:00-7:30 PM, Workshop at the Atrium on Park Street, 2300 S. Park St.
  • Wednesday, August 21, 6:00-7:30 PM, Workshop at Warner Park Community Recreation Center, 1625 Northport Dr.
  • Wednesday, September 18, 6:00-7:30 PM, Workshop at Madison Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin St.
  • Tuesday, October 1, 6:00-7:30 PM, Open House at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, 501 East Badger Rd
Open House Presentation
Law Park Survey

The survey for Law Park is now closed as the consultant team prepares the final report. Please email your thoughts & ideas to, subscribe to receive updates on the project, and encourage friends, neighbors, and family to do the same!

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.

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:

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