Glenwood Park Storm Water Management Project

This page describes some aspects of the park’s history, since its development in the 1940’s, in terms of engineering to control urban run-off & flooding in the early 1970’s just before Glenwood was recognized as a Madison Landmark.  The stormwater runoff from a large drainage area in the Westmoreland neighborhood is directed to flow through Glenwood and into Lake Wingra by way of the detention pond along Monroe Street.  In the event of heavy rainfall, the carrying capacity of the underground passages is exceeded, and water flows through the center of the park.  For a brief time, Glenwood becomes a whitewater stream.  City staff and other interested groups continue to study and discuss what can be done to protect the park from erosion yet still provide safe passage for the runoff.
Work in 2011
During the Summer of 2011 new underground storm water pipes were re-routed from the storm water catch basin at the south end of Glenwood Park via Cross and Wyota streets.  City Engineering agreed to include landscape improvements in the scope of the storm water project according to a Landscape Planting Plan more in keeping with Jens Jensen's naturalistic style and the original 1949 Park Plan.
The mounded detention berm with large catch basin at the south end of the park was part of the 1972 storm water system.  The south end of Glenwood was intended to be the main (and perhaps the only) park entrance,  according to Landscape Architect Jens Jensen’s original design.  Jensen envisioned visitors being greeted by a sunny opening amongst the darker backdrop of forest called the “Rose Meadow” with drifts of roses and highlighted smaller individual hawthorns and crabapples.   Jensen’s Plan shows the actual park entry from the street to be more enclosed with plantings and large boulders before the sunny expanse of the Rose Meadow opened up before you inviting exploration.
When the 1972 detention berm was installed, roses and 3 hawthorns were planted, no doubt with Jensen in mind. The 2011 storm water repair project originally intended to strip the berm of the many weeds and roses for easier maintenance.  An agreement between City Engineering and DMNA Parks Committee negotiated a budget for planting native perennials in a manner emulating Jensen’s naturalistic style instead of lawn.  Other objectives were removal of 2 large trees according to the park's Urban Forestry Management Plan, protection of the hawthorns and to salvage roses for replanting.
Tragically, the contractor who was awarded the storm water project, failed to protect two of the 40 year old hawthorns & the rose salvage was negligible.   The good news was that the Landscape Planting Plan of native perennials was completed with replacements and new roses propagated from the few survivors.
Other improvements are being considered for this south end of Glenwood including a new City Landmark plaque commemorating the park's historic stature, further plantings with roses and other plants, and ways to improve the entry experience to the park according to Jensen's historic design.
Peter Nause,   Parks Chair