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Vilas (Henry) Park Master Plan

Last Updated: 02/25/2020

Phase II of the Vilas Park Master Plan process has begun!

VPMP Project Schedule Phase II
Graphic showing the Vilas Park Master Plan Phase II project schedule

Interagency Staff Meeting #3; 2-13-2020

Board of Park Commissioners Project Update; 2-12-2020

Community Partners Advisory Group Meeting #2; 2-11-2020

Resident Resource Group Meeting #2; 2-10-2020

Youth Workshop #1 at Boys and Girls Club Dane Co.; 2-6-2020

1-31-2020 PROJECT UPDATE: Additional outreach and opportunities for further discussions by Residence Resource Group members with the Greenbush and Vilas Neighborhood Associations was conducted in January. This shifted the next round of engagement with both the Resident Resource Group and Community Partners Advisory Groups by several weeks to allow for results from neighborhood-led surveys and meetings undertaken by the Greenbush and Vilas Neighborhood Associations to be compiled and brought to the next sessions of each group. MSA and UA will be working together to categorize and analyze data from these efforts, and UA will be leading the Youth Workshop in early February. The next round of meetings in February will include a discussion of the public input received to date. This information will be shared with each of the groups at least a week prior to the meeting.

MSA Professional Services, Inc. will be assuming a lead role during the next robust series of meetings and public engagement sessions planned during Phases II and III. MSA will also continue with park observations, intercept interviews and Focus Group discussions moving forward so that these important components of the project are carried through to the conclusion of the master plan. Jason Valerius, AICP, who is currently involved on the MSA team as a public engagement liaison with Urban Assets, will be expanding his role in leading the public process through Phases II and III. Jason is the MSA Team Leader for the planning staff at the Madison office which includes six planning professionals. Joining Jason from his team will be Becky Binz, AICP, a planner with extensive park and recreation public engagement and Matt Frater, APA, an expert in working with youth organizations and diverse neighborhoods. MSA will be working with the University of Wisconsin Departments of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture to continue to document site observations and intake interviews from Park users. These changes will help to improve consistency of information to the many groups involved with this process.

Additional information about upcoming meetings will be posted to the project site as they become available. Dan Schmitt ( or (608) 216-2059) will be the primary point of contact from MSA for each of the groups in coordinating meeting schedules and information; please reach out to Dan if you have any questions as this process continues.

Please contact if you have any questions regarding the project or would like to send comments/input to the project staff.

The Vilas Park Master Plan Survey Results are in! Thanks to all who submitted responses (496 were received!) before the survey close date of 1-31-2020.

​​​​​​The full report is available at the link, below:

The Greenbush and Vilas Neighborhood Associations held meetings with their membership on 1-27-2020 and 1-22-2020, respectively, to obtain additional input on the project from residents of those neighborhoods. Summary information and from the meetings as well as survey results that were developed by the GNA and VNA that were shared with Parks are included, below:

Phase I Project Materials: Site Analysis, Neighborhood & Community Engagement

Panoramic photograph from the 1915-1916 Annual Report of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Assoication
Panoramic image from the 1915-1916 Annual Report of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association

In addition to comments received via the Vilas Park Master Plan Survey, project email address and completed Comment Cards, Consultants MSA Professional Services, Inc. and subconsultant Urban Assets, LLC collected input during Phase I of the project via on-site intercept interviews with park users, meetings with City of Madison Planning, Engineering, Parks, Traffic Engineering and Metro staff; WiDNR staff; Army Corps of Engineers staff and engaging community members through Resident Resource Group, Community Partners Advisory Group and Focus Group sessions with Bayview Center and Badger Rock Community Center.  Meeting notes and materials from these sessions can be found, below.

Resident Resource Group Meeting #1; 11-6-2019

Meeting follow-up: As part of the Vilas Park master planning process, the Parks Department is seeking additional input from neighborhood associations and their residents.  Members of the Resident Resource Group were asked to share the following information with their respective neighborhood associations and to return responses to the consultant team by January 31, 2020.

Interagency Staff Meeting #2; 10-23-2019

Focus Group Session #2; Bayview Center Senior Bingo Luncheon 9-25-2019

Community Partners Advisory Group Meeting #1; 9-23-2019

Focus Group Session #1; Badger Rock Community Center 9-8-2019

Regulatory Meeting with US Army Corps of Engineers; 8-28-2019

Regulatory/State Agency Staff Meeting with WiDNR; 8-26-2019

Interagency Staff Meeting #1; 7-24-2019

Community Input Meeting #1; 6-26-2019

A Community Input Meeting was held at the start of the project to introduce the project team, timeframe, discuss goals and objectives and describe the process. Materials promoting that session are followed by the items that were presented, below.

Project Objective

Throughout the master plan process, which is expected to continue through fall 2020, Parks will be asking for input on questions such as, “What do you love most about Vilas Park?”, “What would you change?” and, “How can the park best serve our whole community as Madison grows?”

The Vilas Park Master Plan will be a framework plan that will help to inform improvements at the park over the next 15-20 years. It will be a starting point for the development of future capital improvement projects that could add to, replace or improve amenities at the park including sport courts, playgrounds, fields, lagoons, beaches, parking, roadways, pedestrian paths and more! The plan document, along with a master plan report, will go through several stages of design driven by community input that will be reviewed by other city and county agency staff, working groups comprised of neighborhood, community and environmental affiliates, and eventually go to the Board of Park Commissioners for approval prior to being implemented.


The City of Madison Parks Division issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) through Finance/Purchasing in September 2018 to select a consultant team to begin the Vilas (Henry) Park Master Planning process in early 2019.  Consistent with City of Madison Purchasing guidelines, the RFP was located on the Demandstar and VendorNet websites under the "Vilas Park Master Plan" title and was posted for 4 weeks, with proposals due on October 3, 2018.  Following the submission deadline, the proposals (a total of six were received) were reviewed and scored by an interagency staff team and four of the proposals were selected to move forward to in-person interviews.  MSA Professional Services, Inc., who assembled a team including Urban Assets, LLC and Quinn Evans Architects, received the highest score following the interview component and started on the project in late May 2019. 

The master planning process for James Madison Park was greatly informative to Parks and its result, as well as lessons learned throughout the consultant selection process, public input meetings, and schematic and final design development phases helped to inform the Vilas (Henry) Park master plan RFP.

Prior to issuing the RFP, Parks worked with other city staff and a small group of citizen stakeholders to utilize the Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiative (RESJI) Tool to help to analyze and inform the public engagement process for the master plan efforts and to help to inform the selected consultant(s) with its findings.  The results of the tool will be reviewed with the consultant selected through the RFP process.