Madison's Central Park Neighborhood
June 30, 2009 Central Park East Rail Corridor
The Idea: A grand 35-acre park rolling down the rusting East Rail Corridor

One decade, three plans and many community planning sessions later, fewer than seven acres of land have been acquired.

Center for Resilient Cities, a small nonprofit organization headquartered in Madison that is heir to the Urban Open Space Foundation. It was the foundation that in 1999 introduced the proposal to redevelop the east rail corridor from which the park plan evolved.

The foundation hired Seattle designers who produced a park plan that gained little traction here and faded from view. The foundation then hired a Milwaukee area firm that produced a plan for a 17-acre park with an amphitheater, skate park, bridge, open lawn, farmers market, community gardens, commuter rail station and more.

The task force moved away from that plan a year ago in an effort to avoid the expense of relocating the rail and concentrated on a pared-down plan commissioned by Madison Gas & Electric, whose headquarters neighbors the park site. That plan, drafted by a consortium of local designers dubbed "3," includes a performance plaza and great lawn, a skateboard park, a bike center, a rail station and a market area on seven acres between Brearly and Baldwin Streets at an estimated cost of $18 million.