MADISON, Wis. -

Construction on a decades-long project on the city’s east side got underway Friday.

Talk of a park off Ingersoll Street started as early as the 1970s. Fast forward through dozens of public meetings, petitions and amendments and what was a dream is now on its way to reality.

Friday’s work is part of what city officials call the first phase. Some of its additions, like pathways, environmentally friendly restrooms and a railroad crosswalk, could be complete by next summer.

Despite the heat, more than a dozen supporters came out to tour the construction.

"This is probably going to be the shortest public statement I've ever made out of respect for all of you in this weather, but also in reflection upon how long this took to transpire," joked Mayor Paul Soglin during a news conference at the site.

"This park has had many thoughtful people involved and it's such a pleasure to be here today," said Alderwoman Marsha Rummel.

The public got its first look at the park's master plan three years ago. It also includes a pavilion, amphitheater and skate park on the 2.5 acres. But the success of those phases depends on future fundraising efforts.

"I'm glad it's finally going to be here, hopefully, soon," remarked Bruce Woods, who called himself an optimistic skeptic.

Woods wants to hold the annual Fete de Marquette party on the park’s proposed great lawn. The city says he can, as early as next year.

"Something will happen, but would you like to see it all built at once, sure, but it's too expensive," Woods said.

The project costs $5 million and was funded, in part, by the city, which contributed more than $2 million. Federal grants account for another $3.1 million.