Madison parks official to step down after 35 years - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison parks official to step down after 35 years

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Si Widstrand began his career with the Madison Parks Department in 1973. His official role will come to an end December 30.

When Diana Henry caught up with him the other day, he was is exactly where he loves to be... outdoors.

Widstrand has got quite a passion for the environment. A passion he turned into a career. He's Madison's parks planning and development manager for a few more days. He'll retire at the end of the year. Si has spent the last 30 plus years caring for Madison's parks.

"The park system has been here for 80 years before I got here, and now I've put in my 30," he said.

When Si began his career, the city had 4,000 acres of park land. Today, there are 6,500 acres and growing. "There have probably 50 parks that I've been involved in the initial planning for."

Si was recently out at one of those growing areas. He was at Door Creek Park on the city's east side, marking future trails.

Si says the city has made great progress in the past three decades, too many achievements to mention.

So what will he miss? "I will miss the people that I work with," he said. "We have great city employees, and I really enjoy working with them."

One thing you notice about Si... he's very humble. "In all my time here, there have been so many other people that I have worked with on projects, it's not like I got any of this done alone."

The down side to the job, he said, is that he hasn't been able to be outside as much as he'd like. His job brings him to meetings and keeps him in the office. But after December 30, Widstrand will be able to spend a lot more time in one of the city's greatest resources.

"Park systems always need volunteers," he said. "So, I wouldn't be surprised if you see me doing something in a park, or God forbid at a public meeting."

Si said his favorite park is Elver, on Madison's southwest side. He especially has a soft spot for the ski trails, which he had a big hand in developing.

CLICK HERE to email story ideas for future Someone You Should Know features to Diana Henry.

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