Secret Places


Picnic in the Park dates

We will be hosting a series of ‘Picnic in the Park’ events through the fall each month.  Neighbors can come and bring their own food or take advantage of a variety of food carts. It’s a great time to relax in the park with neighbors.

– July 28, 5pm – 7pm
– August 11, 5pm-7pm
– September 22, 5pm – 7pm
– October 6, 5pm – 7pm

Hope to see you there!


This event is sponsored in part thanks to the Neighborhood Improvement Grant from the City of Madison

Neighborhood Trick-or-Treating to remain Tuesday, Oct 31st

Thanks for everyone who weighed in on the idea to have neighborhood Trick-or-Treating being the Saturday prior to Halloween rather than Tuesday Oct 31st.

We will drop the proposal at this time and keep Trick-or-Treating only on Tuesday. While people are still submitting their votes/comments, it is clear that there is not the universal support we would need to make Saturday work. Without almost total agreement on the Saturday date, having an additional group go out Tuesday would create more logistical problems than moving things to Saturday would hope to solve. The most frequent comment/concern from people who indicated they wanted to keep the event on Tuesday was that they were worried even with advertising the change to Saturday, people would still come Tuesday, possibly from other neighborhoods, which is understandable and not an issue we can solve.

Thanks again everyone for your comments.  We’ll continue to think about other fun activities and events the neighborhood could do and always, if you are interested in joining the activities committee to help brainstorm or execute these events, please let us know!


Much debate was had on NextDoor and Facebook, and while most people who cast their vote via the website didn’t comment, we promised to post the anonymous comments that did come in via the website so people could see what their neighbors were thinking.   Those comments are below:

Continue reading

Stream Update

The stream cleanup effort continues.  Rainy weather had put many of the projects on hold, but this week portions of the lower half of the stream are being weeded and new beneficial plants are being added along the banks as well as lilies into the water.  Not only will they be aesthetically pleasing, their main purpose is to absorb nutrients from the water which cause algae blooms.  They will also help fight erosion.  Aquatic-friendly plants will be added in 100 ft segments over the coming months and years, starting on the lower half where the algae blooms and silt buildup is the greatest.   The overgrown trees/buck-thorn of the lower lake will be removed and replaced with more beneficial aquatic plants as well.  Hopefully this helps stabilize the ecosystem so algae blooms are less common and chemical treatments aren’t needed.

As a reminder, the stream cleanup plan is a multi-year process.  While frustrating that it moves slowly, spreading out the repairs is much more cost effective and can more easily be fit into the existing budget.

The cleanup effort was funded in part by a Neighborhood Improvement Grant from the City of Madison in 2016. We are also applying for grants from Dane County to have plants provided for free through their “Native Pant Program” but boy has that process been slow as molasses.  We’ll keep at it.

In 2017 the neighborhood was awarded with a grant to fund a series of neighborhood events.  We can submit another grant application for 2018 so if you have any thoughts on what our next grant application should be , please let us know!

Seeking Input – Neighborhood Halloween Trick-or-Treat on Sat, Oct. 28

Because Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, some neighbors have proposed having the Neighborhood Association suggest neighbors hold their Secret Places Neighborhood Trick-Or-Treat night  on Saturday evening (the 28th) rather than Tuesday evening (the 31st).  Some communities choose to move trick-or-treat night to the weekend prior to Halloween to make it easier for kids and parents to celebrate on a non-school / work night.  However, this would obviously be a change for some people who prefer celebrating things on the 31st, regardless of day of the week.  There are pros and cons to both Tuesday evening and Saturday evening, so we hoped to get feedback from neighbors.  Should there be support for holding the trick-or-treat night on Saturday, we’d devise a plan to help get the word out to every house as it gets closer to Halloween so people are reminded of the change.

If you have thoughts on the idea of neighborhood trick-or-treating on Saturday vs. Tuesday, please let us know:


City of Madison seeking input on Long-term land use plan

The City of Madison sent out information about their city-wide proposed land use changes.  From their message to the Neighborhood Board:

The City of Madison is requesting input for the Future Land Use Map in its Comprehensive Plan as part of the Imagine Madison The Planning Division is preparing materials for Phase 2 of Imagine Madison, for which land use will be a key component. The Comprehensive Plan Update will include a Future Land Use Map that shows planned land uses for currently developed areas and anticipated growth areas on the edge of the City.  The map guides how and where the City grows.  In order to ensure that the Comprehensive Plan is an accurate expression of community land use goals, a process has been established for considering potential changes to the map.


The Planning Division will accept change requests regarding the Future Land Use Map through March 31. It is preferred that requests be submitted online at Staff will review comments and evaluate requests to create an Initial Draft of the Future Land Use Map, which will be presented for a two-month public comment period beginning in late April. A Final Draft of the Future Land Use Map will be presented to the City’s Plan Commission in July.

What does that mean for our area?  The short version is – eventually houses are likely to be built to the northwest of the neighborhood (where the quarry is) and the east of the neighborhood (where the field is).  However, this is just the early plan and potential changes are always possible. If changes are made to the zoning they would most likely be made to the areas in blue below.

Additionally you can see the current zoning plan and the potential for some low density apartments or condos along Siggelkow further to the east (in the location of the farm).

The Neighborhood Board will be submitting a letter to the City indicating our neighborhood’s preference that the areas around the neighborhood remain low density residential housing, and not to make major changes (such as putting in high density apartments).  It is unlikely such a change would be proposed, but it is best to cover our bases just in case so the City officially knows our preference.

The two main areas of growth we can expect around our neighborhood over the next 10 – 20 years are:

  1.  The Quarry to the Northwest of the neighborhood (along Marsh Rd) will likely be mined out in the next 5 – 10 years and eventually that land will be filled in, leveled, and made into residential property.  This will be a long process with lots of opportunities for public input.
  2. The farmland to the east of the Secret Places Neighborhood will eventually become residential housing, while further to the east on Siggelkow there would be some low density apartments, duplexes, and/or condos.  Again, this process will include public input.

Blue areas have potential for change, but according to the City staff, most likely will stay residential:

From the “Imagine Madison” document under discussion:

Potential areas for change

[ Interactive map here ]


The most current zoning plan:

Current neighborhood plan

[ Interactive map here ]


And the old 1999 neighborhood plan:

1999 neighborhood plan

[ Full document here ]

If you have thoughts, questions, or other suggestions as to what you would like to see the neighborhood board do, as always you can contact us here.

What should our next neighborhood project be for the next Neighborhood Improvement Grant application?

Now that we have successfully implemented the plan for the stream cleanup project, funded in part by the City of Madison Neighborhood Improvement Grant, it is time to think about what the next neighborhood grant project should be.  We can apply for the city grant every year and while approval is not guaranteed, it is worth a shot.


Do you have an idea for what our next application for the Neighborhood Improvement grant should be?  Let us know.


As a background:  The grant cannot be used for maintenance (e.g., repave the walkways) , the grant is typically between $2000-5000, and the city wants the grant to help build community and improve the neighborhood.  According to the application, eligible projects include:  “Projects/activities that will improve the appearance and livability of the neighborhood’s public spaces such as streetscapes, gateways, and neighborhood business areas. Projects and activities are generally high visibility, capital projects that can be undertaken and completed in a short period of time.”  In the past they have approved proposals for art projects, community gardens, or creating public meeting places.


Since the last grant was used to improve the stream on the west side of the neighborhood, it would be great to think of a project on the east side of the neighborhood.  The neighborhood board will do the legwork of putting together the grant application, we would like feedback from neighbors as to what that project should be. If you have suggestions for projects we should consider/ research, please let us know.

Polling location for Election Day and other helpful election links

Our polling location for election day on Tuesday is Glendale Elementary School.
Polls are open 7am – 8pm
If at 8pm you are already in line you can still vote even after the polls close.

You can vote prior to election day via absentee ballot or in-person at these locations:

You will need to present a photo ID to vote.  There are many IDs that will work, they are listed here:

Only if you are registering to vote would you ALSO need to show proof of residence.  If you own your home, you can present the City of Madison assessor’s website (even on your smart phone) or use any of these other various forms of proof of residency listed here:

If you have questions about voting or are for some reason denied the right to vote, there is a free hotline to speak to free election attorneys at 1-866-Our-Vote (Sponsored by League of Women Voters and some other non-profits).  You have a right to vote on a provisional ballot so worse case scenario, do that, and the 866-Our-Vote people can help figure out how to make sure your vote is counted.

If you live in Secret Places your ballot should have the school referendum on the back.  Remember to flip over your ballot to vote.  The school district is seeking ‘yes’ for all 3 questions.  More info here:

If you have other questions about registering to vote, where to vote, or the status of your absentee ballot, you can find that all here:

Studies show taking your kids to vote with you increases the likelihood of them becoming good voters in the future.  Plus, they get an ‘I voted sticker’.  So they have that going for them.

Should HOA begin snow removal of neighborhood bike/walking paths?

Neighbors, the HOA needs our input.

Some neighbors contacted the Home Owners Association (managed by Shandar at DSI) to look into snow/ice removal of the public walking / bike paths through the neighborhood in the winter. After receiving bids for the project, DSI is reporting the cost to clear the paths would be approximately $8k per winter, which would increase neighborhood HOA dues approximately $18.50 per household.

The HOA (currently controlled by Veridian) has the final vote in the matter, but they would obviously like neighborhood input on the issue. PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR VOTE / COMMENTS BELOW and we will pass them along to the HOA.

As background, much earlier in the neighborhood’s history, the paths were cleared but neighbors at the time felt their limited use in the winter did not justify the shoveling expense. Since then, there has been quite a bit of neighborhood growth and increased path usage, so some neighbors asked DSI to look into reinstating snow removal.  Neighbors who walk dogs have been the most vocal supporters of this request.  The cost would be a per-snowfall basis, but they estimate an average of 16 snowfalls per season which would total out to that $18 per household (with the apartments paying their dues share as well).

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR VOTE / COMMENTS BELOW and we will pass them along to the HOA. If you’d prefer to contact Shandar with DSI directly with your thoughts, you can always reach her at

Vote on Snow Removal

Should HOA dues increase $18 to pay for walking path snow removal in the winter?

[-Voting Closed-]

Secret Places Neighborhood Association 1st Annual Rubber Duck Race

Sun, Oct 2, 11:00 AM


Big pond at the top of the stream (near the Secret Places Park)


Soon, the stream will be shut off for the winter, but first we have a gaggle of rubber ducks who want to race down it. Will your rubber duck finish first?

Please join the Secret Places Neighborhood Association for the 1st Annual Rubber Duck Race on Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 11 a.m. at the big pond at the top of the stream (near the Secret Places Park). Children of all ages are invited to participate for delicious prizes.

If you would like to help volunteer, we need a dozen adults to help shepherd the kids and also long polls, golf clubs, oars, etc. to help nudge stuck duckies along.  Let us know:


Secret Places Neighborhood Ice Cream Social

The Neighborhood Association will once again be hosting a neighborhood Ice Cream Social Wednesday, August 24 from 6pm -7:30pm at Secret Places Park.  Please help spread the word to your neighbors.


Special thanks to neighbor Staci Fritz, owner of Calliope Ice Cream, who is graciously donating the ice cream once again.


We look forward to seeing everyone there.

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