Athletic fields

Madison Park along the Isthmus Gets New Sports Courts, Lighting System and Basketball Court | local government

While the East Side eagerly awaits the 2021 arrival of Madison’s long-awaited Public Market, nearby construction is already underway for major upgrades to a city park.

A popular location for Ultimate Frisbee, Burr Jones Park is getting a facelift with much-improved sports fields, a lighting system, a new basketball court and updated parking lot – all slated for completion this spring.

“We are very excited about these improvements,” said Madison Parks Division landscape architect Mike Sturm. “I think that’s going to help continue to make the great East Washington Avenue hallway a vibrant place.”

Aldus. Syed Abbas, whose 12th district includes the park, said the update will “create great color and flavor” for the community and potentially bring more businesses to the East and Middle East. He said his district had a lot of “untapped” potential.

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“These types of developments – the public market, the sports ground – actually attract people’s attention to this side of the city,” Abbas said.

The space will have markings for two Ultimate Frisbee courts or one adult soccer field. Abbas said it would be a long-lived “state of the art” facility.

Abbas said some residents were frustrated that the park only had one basketball court instead of two. But expanding the pitch only left room for one pitch in the park, he said.

Basketball court - jump

Preparatory work is underway for a new basketball court on the northeast side of the park.


Expanded landscaping and a water retention system to prevent flooding will also be added to the park.

Together, the upgrades will have a price to the city of around $900,000, Sturm said.

Strong demand

Sturm said with recent high-rise residential developments on East Washington Avenue, there has been an increased demand for sports fields.

The LED lighting system will allow for extended use of the fields, especially in late fall and early spring when daylight hours are shortened.

“With the high density, we want to make sure that we can accommodate as many teams, as many leagues and as many people as possible,” Abbas said. “Giving them the ability to play in the evenings and at night ticks that box. We can use this facility to its fullest, at its peak.

Madison Parks offers lighting system for Burr Jones Park on Isthmus

The fixtures are specially designed to have a clean cutoff, preventing light from spilling into the surrounding neighborhood and reducing glare. Lighting will only be used during scheduled field events, which will save energy, Sturm said.

For the first year, the land will not be available for reservations, but residents will still be able to use it on an unplanned basis. Sturm said the “rigorous continued use” of reservations would prevent the field from growing properly.

Updates needed

The impetus for the project was the poor condition of the old parking lot, Sturm said, but other areas also needed upgrading.

Asphalt in basketball courts cracks, deteriorates and is not level. With the upgrades, the court’s pavement will be deeper, providing a more stable surface that will last longer, Sturm said.

In the fields, water tended to accumulate in certain places and destroy parts of the grass. But in the spring, there will be a water retention pond that will retain stormwater and reduce runoff. The area will be planted with native prairie plants that help absorb water.

Water retention basin - jump

A depression in the ground at the south end of Burr Jones Park marks the location of a storm water retention pond. A popular spot for Ultimate Frisbee, the park is getting a facelift with much-improved sports fields, a lighting system, a new basketball court, and updated parking — all slated for completion this spring.


Abbas said the upgrades will make the park more resilient.

“Madison is growing so fast, so whatever project we do today will serve the community for the next 20, 30 years,” Abbas said.

Aware of the environment

Throughout the project, improving the environment has been a priority for the city, Sturm said.

He said the retention basin would be a small step towards solving the runoff problems that lead to flooding in the area. It will also reduce the buildup of sediment in the water, making the runoff cleaner.

More than 150 shrubs and perennials will be planted, along with 12 tall trees to provide shade, Sturm said.

Lights for the field were also selected with the environment in mind, as LED lights are more energy efficient than most other types of lighting, Sturm added.

Sturm hopes having a lit court on the isthmus will encourage more people to walk or cycle instead of driving across town to play Ultimate Frisbee at night.

“Rather than having to go to the far east or far west of Madison to get to the sports fields, people can walk, people can ride bikes,” Sturm said. “It really reduces vehicle travel. It’s just more accessible. »

Construction is expected to be completed in May.

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