Madison and Dane County plan to spend $2 million to purchase 40 acres in the town of Verona to extend the Ice Age Trail and create a park.
The city would invest $1.5 million and the county $500,000 to buy the property owned by Charles and Bonnie Dykman. Currently, the 40 acres of forest and farmland is located near University Ridge Golf Course on Woods Road.
Kevin Thusius, director of land conservation for the Ice Age Trail Alliance said it is rare to find a swath of undeveloped land close to the city. He said the alliance has had its eye on the property for years.
“I think it’s incredibly important to preserve properties like this when the opportunity arises,” Thusius said. “Opportunities once lost are then usually lost for good.”
The area features important glacial features such as a terminal moraine, which is a ridge formed by gravel, sand and boulders carried by the glacier and deposited at its front.
By acquiring the property, portions of the Ice Age Trail within the golf course can connect with planned trail segments continuing north along the terminal moraine. Thusius said the trail could also act as a “green belt” and delineate the city of Madison from the city and town of Verona.
City of Madison Parks Superintendent Eric Knepp said in a letter to the Finance Committee July 30 that it is critical the city secure the property to protect the Ice Age Trail corridor. The acquisition “sets its course for this important part of the trail,” Knepp said.
“I cannot overstate how bad it would be for the City of Madison and its residents (not to mention all Wisconsinites) long term to lose the opportunity to have a real part of the Ice Age Trail in the City and accessible by our residents,” Knepp said.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the land acquisition will be a “wonderful addition” to the county’s trails.
“Dane County is excited to add land to the beautiful Ice Age Trail,” Parisi said. “We look forward to continuing to partner with local governments to enhance our residents access to nature.”
Mayor Paul Soglin has introduced a resolution to spend $1.53 million in citywide parkland impact fees. A City Council decision is expected in September. The Dane County Board of Supervisors would also need to approve a resolution to spend the $500,000.