Paunack Park Playground Improvements

Last Updated: 10/24/2022

Work is now complete at Paunack (A.O.) Park

Parks Construction staff mobilized to the park for existing playground equipment removals and to excavate and begin the process of storing/stockpiling peagravel for reuse in the new "nature nook" area but upon removing the swings from the park, staff discovered that a very large footing had been poured for the swings which straddled the existing stormwater pipe and would potentially impede its future repair/servicing by City Engineering.  Engineering televised the line and made further excavations around the footing to determine whether the entire pipe and footing material should be excavated and rebuilt - which does not need to occur.  The determination was made that the footing was likely stabilizing the pipe in the generally water-laden/mucky soils and should remain.

The extent of the existing footing required that the layout of the equipment at the playground needed to shift generally south on the site  and to a single footprint to avoid further removal of the footing; due to the very tight site constraints the proposed "Vista Tree Top Spinner" cannot be installed at this location.  The other items described during the meetings, below, can still be included in the project.


The City of Madison Parks Division held two meetings in late 2020 and early 2021 to discuss the playground improvements at Paunack Park.

The first public meeting was a playground meeting held with the neighborhood on December 9th 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 the current use of the playground at Paunack Park and options for what might be added to the park with a playground replacement.

The second public meeting was a playground meeting held on February 3, 2021 also via Zoom. At this meeting staff presented two playground designs prepared by Parks staff and with equipment options to choose from to fit the site.

Details on these meetings can be found at the links, below.

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

Public Input Meetings

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm - ONLINE

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at 6:00 pm

At this session, a brief review of decisions made during the first meeting was held as well as an overview of the site opportunities and constraints at the park.
Please note: this meeting was not recorded

Information on fundraising opportunities will be available at the meeting and also on-line at

For additional updates on park projects please visit:

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, 2020.