City moves forward on plans to expand Cherokee Marsh Park

City moves forward on plans to expand Cherokee Marsh Park

Madison city leaders are considering a plan to add 31 acres to Cherokee Marsh Park, through a nearly $2.4 million purchase of vacant property adjacent to the preserve.

The city’s finance committee unanimously approved the proposal at its meeting Monday. Under the plan, the city would purchase land at 1904 Wheeler Road from Cherokee Property Development, LLC to add to the park.

The $2.36 million cost would be funded through citywide parkland impact fees.

Officials intend to restore the land to native prairie in an effort to protect the Yahara River watershed. The Cherokee Marsh is Dane County’s largest wetland.

“The purchase of this land is a valuable and unique opportunity for the City to protect the Cherokee Marsh by reducing agricultural runoff and creating a buffer between developed land and the marsh,” District 18 Alder Rebecca Kemble, who is sponsoring the resolution, said in a statement to News 3. “Restoring the land to native prairie will reduce excess nutrients and sediments carried by stormwater into the wetlands, Yahara River, and downstream lakes and provide important habitat for wildlife that needs both wetland and upland for food and shelter.”

Kemble said the location on Wheeler Road will also provide a “new opportunity for access and enjoyment of Cherokee Marsh by the public.”

“Being able to plant the uplands to native prairie will be good for water quality, good for wildlife and also will be good for public access and enjoyment to Cherokee Marsh,” Jan Axelson, president of Friends of Cherokee Marsh, said. “It’s an important property because it lies just uphill from over 200 acres of city-owned wetlands.”

The city’s Board of Park Commissioners is set to take up the proposal at its meeting Wednesday.