Oak Park Heights Playground Improvements

June 3, 2024 Update

The Rally Round climber has been installed, the orange construction fence has been removed and a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for Monday, June 10, 2024 at 11 a.m.  More details on the event can be found at the Parks Events website

View past project updates »

Project Details

Project Information

The City of Madison replaced the playground at Oak Parks Heights Park in 2023 - while the main work was completed, one piece is still being installed - but is soon to be complete!

After input from area residents during two public input meetings held in late 2022 and early 2023, Parks had planned to preserve the older metal jungle gym feature at the park. 

Due to internal miscommunication, the jungle gym, along with the other aging equipment, was removed and unfortunately was not able to be repaired/reconstructed. Parks worked with Alder Tishler and attended the Midvale Heights Community Association meeting later that month to answer questions and discuss options for moving forward.  From that meeting, the idea of a follow-up meeting with the neighborhood to review equipment options for installation at the playground in Spring 2024 came forward.  That meeting was held December 11, 2023:  at the session, attendees overwhelmingly favored the Burke Rally Round as the preferred stand-alone equipment piece to replace the original jungle gym and in the dark green color to match the other new playground equipment. 

Information from all of the planning meetings can be found at the links, below:

Monday, December 11, 2023 at 6:00PM - online via Zoom

Oak Park Heights Park playground with newly installed wood mulch surfacing
Image credit: Kate Kane / Parks

All questions and comments regarding this project should be directed to Kate Kane, Landscape Architect at kkane@cityofmadison.com or (608) 261-9671.

The City of Madison Parks Division held two meetings to discuss the playground improvements at Oak Park Heights Park.

The first public meeting was a playground workshop held with two other neighborhoods on November 10, 2022 online via Zoom. At this meeting City staff presented the Madison Parks playground input process, provided background on Madison’s playgrounds, and sought input from the neighborhood on individual park playgrounds.

The second public meeting was a neighborhood playground meeting held on January 19, 2023 also online via Zoom. At this meeting staff presented two playground designs from the manufacturer chosen during the breakout room session from the workshop and attendees selected their preferred design and color option, shown in the attachments below.


Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 6:00 pm - online via Zoom

*the 2-bay swing will be modified to include an accessible seat together with the belt seat.  Attendees were interested in swapping the 2-seat rocker for a multiple user stand-alone spinner - a visual showing those changes will be posted to this page when it is available.


Thursday, October 10, 2022 at 6:00 pm – online meeting via Zoom

Please note: this meeting was not recorded

All questions and comments regarding this workshop should be directed to Kate Kane, Landscape Architect at kkane@cityofmadison.com or (608) 261-9671.

Information on fundraising opportunities will be available at the meeting and also on-line at https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/about/documents/ParksFundraising.pdf

For additional updates on park projects please visit: https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/projects

Background on Madison Playgrounds

The City of Madison currently owns and maintains approximately 180 playgrounds across the park system. This does not include most school playgrounds, which are owned and maintained by MMSD. The 180 playgrounds equates to 7 per 10,000 residents. According to the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) annual rating of the 100 largest municipal parks systems in the nation, this puts Madison at #1 and by a fairly sizable margin. As a comparison, Cincinnati has approximately 5 playgrounds per 10K residents, and is currently 2nd in the annual ranking in this category. This places Madison at approximately 40% more playgrounds per capita than other leading communities. Of cities reported by the TPL that have the highest playgrounds per capita, the per capita ratio is between 2.4 and 4.7 playgrounds per 10,000 residents. There are only two municipalities with amounts higher, Madison at 7.1 and Cincinnati at 5.0 playgrounds per capital. Madison Parks is certainly proud of this ranking, but such a sizable system of playgrounds does mean there are significant costs to develop and maintain the system in a safe and accessible manner.

In the 1990’s there was a significant reinvestment in playgrounds to move away from wood structures, which were inaccessible, towards equipment that was safer and met ADA guidelines. At this time, the primary surfacing selected for installation was crumb rubber and/or pea gravel. By 2012, there was a significant need to reinvest in our playgrounds again as many were reaching the end of their useful life at similar times. This led to the Parks Division working collaboratively with Alders, the Mayor, and the Board of Park Commissioners to establish a programmatic approach to the replacement of over 120 of the playgrounds over the next decade beginning in 2013. The Council adopted RES-13-00034, Legistar 27854, in January 2013. This called on the Parks Division to develop a replacement program that prioritized playgrounds based on safety, age and condition in a fair and equitable manner. The program was to include a standard playground equipment package, prioritized yearly capital budget plan for the replacements and equitable guidelines that would allow for neighborhoods to contribute financially to the project.

Additional history and information on the playground process can be found in this letter from Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp to All Alders on July 28, 2019.

Project Updates

The Rally Round climber has been installed, the orange construction fence has been removed and a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for Monday, June 10, 2024 at 11 a.m.  More details on the event can be found at the Parks Events website

The concrete pour for the footings on the Rally Round climber arrived sooner than expected on Thursday (5/16) morning!  So while a few days are still needed for the cure time, the work is nearly complete and it is anticipated that the wood mulch safety surface will be installed at the base and orange construction fence will be removed early the week of 5/20!

The Rally Round climber as installed at Oak Park Heights Park on Thursday, May 16.
Image credit: Kate Kane/Parks

The "Rally Round" climber as manufactured by Burke was assembled and installed earlier today - a delivery of concrete for the footings is still in-progress and is anticipated within the week.  When the construction barrier comes down, the equipment is available for play (and an update will be posted here)!

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