Grant will bring upgrades to south side park

$70,000 grant designated for Penn Park

A park on Madison’s south side is getting some upgrades this spring.

Home to the Southside Raiders youth football team and located near the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Penn Park is a gathering place for the neighborhood.

Now, a $70,000 grant from the Madison Community Foundation will add opportunities for kids and their families.

“This is, in my opinion, one of the best parks in the city,” said Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. “Just standing out here today, this park feels refreshed.”

Johnson knows this space has a lot to offer the hundreds of kids involved in his organization, especially with the forthcoming upgrades.

“I can’t wait ’til they witness it,” he said. “They’re gonna be running through this park like crazy.”

“I think sometimes we tend to think the south side is in trouble and needs help, and I think there’s a lot of pride already on the south side,” said Tom Linfield, vice president of the Madison Community Foundation.

He said kids and families in the neighborhood deserve the upgrade.

“We want it to be not just a place to be, but a place to be proud of,” Linfield said.

Adding to a recent shelter renovation and new bathroom facilities from the city, the grant will bring equipment and signs to the Southside Raiders and new picnic tables. It will also fund a bike repair station at the park and two Boys & Girls interns to help fix kids’ bikes and rent out recreational equipment, such as a stereo and a bouncy house.

Johnson can’t wait to see the look on kids’ faces when it all comes together.

“This park belongs to our community,” he said. “It belongs to our community’s kids and their families, and I have no doubt in my mind they’re going to take full advantage.”

The park is set to open in late May, and there will be a celebration either then or later in the summer.