MADISON (WKOW)-- For decades Olin Turville Park and Conservatory along Lake Monona was known for illegal and sexual activity, but four years ago, a handful of neighbors and the Madison Police Department decided to reclaim it.
The group Friends of Olin Turville or FOOT, decided to host four nights of live music this May to celebrate that accomplishment.
"It's a celebration of the success we've had in turning the park around," Madison Police Sgt. Jim Dexheimer says.
Members say the park has changed drastically over the past four years. At one point they say it looked like things couldn't possibly get better.
"A large number of people who thought this park was for their exclusive use for public sex and for meeting and just all sorts of elicit activity. That was making people uncomfortable," Dexheimer says.
Police worked for years to solve the problem, but the biggest change came when they decided to partner with nearby neighbors and the parks division in 2009.
"We worked to encourage positive activity and family use and good things in the park, to celebrate this beautiful place," FOOT member Dan Kennelly says.
Members of FOOT say a lot of little things over the years helped make the park what it is today. The biggest difference however, was the gates they installed to prevent cars from coming in and out at all hours of the night.
"It really cut down on the activity. There was a huge drop as soon as those gates were put up," Dexheimer explains.
Things also started to liven up at the park. Community members started to feel safe again and started hosting events. Eventually the extra commotion started to scare away shady characters and activities.
"Hopefully that momentum will continue and people will come out to see the park and enjoy it," Kennelly says.
Friends of Olin Turville will host three more live concerts at the park pavilion. Music starts at 6:00 pm each night.
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