More Steps Taken To Revive Olin-Turville Park

Tom Deshanz has lived just a few minutes from Olin-Turville Park for 28 years, but until recently he, like many Madison and Dane County residents, didn’t utilize one of the most unique parks in the area.

“I had been here once winter skiing, cross-country skiing, probably about 15 years ago and had never been back,” said Deshanz. “So, when (Friends of Olin-Turville Park) got involved in the restoration and the clearing and the city parks started the clearing, we kind of wandered in.”

Dechanz was one of more than a dozen area residents that volunteered their time on Saturday morning to take part in a special seed-toss event.

“The clearing, the openness and now, hopefully, flowers will encourage people to come back and use this space,” Deshanz said. “It’s wonderful.”

Organizers said that goal of the seed-toss is to fill-in some of the areas where brush has been removed. The seed mix includes specific types of plants that are native to the area.

“It’ll look more like what it looked like in the mid-1800s when Madison was settled,” organizer Ron Shutvet said.

Shutvet and others gathered seeds from existing plants in the park this summer. Those seeds along with $1,400 worth of seeds contributed by the city’s parks department, will bring about 30 varieties of plants back to the area.

“It’s a beautiful, natural area that deserves to be protected and we think that the best thing to do is to put it back the way it looked,” said Shutvet.

Over the next couple of years, the existing flowers, along with new seedlings, will keep the unwanted plants out while bringing people in.

“I’ve been fond of the park since I moved to the Bay Creek Neighborhood in the 1970s,” said Shutvet. “I’m doing what I can to help make it a better, more beautiful natural area.”

The Friends of Olin-Turville Park, or FOOT, worked with the Madison Parks Department to change the reputation of the area, which had been a site for anonymous sex over the years.

“The activity has been severely diminished ? It’s almost entirely gone,” Shutvet said. “Those people are around, and they’ll just go somewhere else if they are harassed enough. And that’s what’s happened here.”

A police crackdown, along with the organization of events, festivals and even an annual moonlight ski trip during the winter have all helped to make sure this Madison treasure is available for those who should be using it.

“Most people who live in the Madison area or Dane County don’t even realize that park exists,” Shutvet said. “I’ve bumped into so many people that say they just discovered it and can’t believe how beautiful it is.”

Shutvet said it will take about two or three years to see the results of Saturday’s hard work. But once the old look is back in place, this resource will be enjoyed for years to come.

“We want to make this more of an attractive place for a family to go for a weekend walk,” Shutvet said. “I have seen a lot of families already enjoying the park.”

And for Deshanz, he hopes everyone will come out and see the changes that have been made already. He knows if that happens, others, just like he did, will come back.

“This is an incredible resource and not just for the neighborhood, but for the entire community,” Deshanz said. “It’s really a regional park and it’s grossly underutilized.”