New Organization Putting Its FOOT Down

December 6, 2010

.. at Olin Park and Turville Woods Conservancy

South side residents are forming a new support organization to preserve and enhance Olin Park and the adjacent Turville Conservancy. Friends Of Olin Turville (FOOT) was launched through a joint effort by the Madison Police Department and the Bay Creek Neighborhood Association.

The organization's goals are to control inappropriate park use, preserve and improve the park's facilities and landscapes, and encourage the community to rediscover the park's unique offerings. The idea is based on the success of groups like Friends of the Arboretum.

The MPD, the Madison Park's Department, and the Bay Creek Neighborhood Association have had remarkable success in curbing illegitimate use of both Olin Park and nearby Turville Woods Conservancy over the past 21-months. FOOT is the next toehold in a path to revitalizing the historic public property.

It has had a long-standing reputation as a destination for public sexual encounters, which evolved into intimidating stalking and cruising that kept neighbors away. Over the last year, the Police Department implemented several innovative strategies to address this problem. Led by Sergeant Jim Dexheimer from the South District's Community Policing Team, the efforts included organizing events, leading volunteer teams to clear sight lines by cutting invasive underbrush, and barricading pass-through traffic between the parking lots.

Through these efforts, the park saw a 90 percent reduction in inappropriate use.
With police efforts working, and illegal activity declining, FOOT is stepping in as a citizens' group to emphasize and enhance the park's positive features. FOOT's initial focus will be on short term projects like organizing concerts, nature walks, and more invasive species cuttings. In the long term, FOOT hopes to work with the city on possible changes to the park's layout.

Olin Park offers the Madison's longest public lakeshore, unmatched views of downtown, hiking trails through oak forests and native prairie, access to bike paths, a boat launch, and cross-country skiing.

Located along John Nolen Drive, the Park is also a key gateway into the community and the first thing many visitors see as they enter Madison. FOOT hopes to build on the park's positive features and encourage Madison to rediscover this ecological and civic gem.

If you have an interest in supporting this work, please consider coming to the next FOOT meeting. It is scheduled for Monday, December 13 at 6:30pm at the new South Madison Branch Library, 2222 S. Park Street. Those planning on attending are asked to please RSPV by emailing friends.of.olin.turville@gmail.com.

Contacts:
Sgt. Jim Dexheimer
(608) 266-5938
Madison Police Department
ddexheimer@cityofmadison.com

Dan Kennelly
Secretary, Bay Creek Neighborhood Association
(608) 217-7470
kennelly.dan@gmail.com

Contact:
  • Sgt. Jim Dexheimer, (608) 266-5938
  • Joel DeSpain, 266-4897