I notice lately that as our downtown housing development projects are being built, using more and more space vertically and horizontally, I worry that the feel of our city on the Isthmus is getting a bit crammed. “Infill and density” are the terms used for growth, and it often reflects that this is good for business. I don’t argue that, but quality of life in terms of a dense population is also a valuable commodity. As buildings grow ever taller, a “canyon” effect robs us of sun light. Car traffic in our already heavily used arteries will also be an issue as every one of these new housing projects have underground parking, accommodating more commuter traffic. As more people are encouraged to live downtown to take advantage of what we have to offer, our parks and green spaces become even more important to the quality of life we can enjoy on the Isthmus.
As many of you know, the small pocket park at 110 East Gilman St., Period Garden Park, is my passion. As a long time resident of the Mansion Hill district, I have volunteered there for the past eight years, slowly renovating and improving the grounds. Almost all the improvements were accomplished by the generous donations of neighbors and businesses, and the care provided by volunteer effort.
One person is actually responsible for the existence of this park since it’s very beginning. The land where the park is located was dramatically saved from a horrible plan to build a poured cement apartment unit right in the heart of our most importantly historic neighborhood in the early 1970’s. Fred Mohs, in the spirit of historic preservation, got the land away from the developer and as other key people became involved, it was turned over to the city as a public park. It was once the large front lawn of the circa 1850’s mansion that faces the now public space. The new park was ambitiously designed as a Victorian era garden with paths and raised flower beds. Then as now, volunteers dedicated many hours creating a beautiful public garden for residents and visitors to enjoy. Over the years, city budget constraints had taken a toll on the maintenance of the park, and it became a rather derelict spot. Back in 2006, not knowing where to start, I expressed an interest in helping to restore it, but soon learned there was no money in the city budget for that or its’ maintenance.
Once again, it was Fred Mohs that came to the rescue. He donated what was needed to help us to start the project, and continues with his generous support every year. After improvements were made, many other people showed interest and donated as well, and the parks department has just recently included Period Park in their budget.
I am always grateful to any and all that show support for this project. It is still dependent on donations to survive, but I must give a special thank you to Fred, my friend and neighbor, for the very existence of this wonderful park to the downtown of Madison, giving us and the future residents a better preserved historical district and much needed green space.
Please be sure to visit Period Park this Spring and enjoy flower bulbs we planted last Fall. They should be blooming starting in late April. Wishing everyone a happy Spring season!
Much more info on the park and its history can be found on our website: www.periodgardenpark.org.
Donations can be made out to “Capitol Neighborhoods Inc./Period Park” and sent to:
Capitol Neighborhoods Inc.
PO Box 2613
Madison, WI 53703