San Damiano Monona

The project

About the purchase

In early 2020, the St. Norbert Abbey announced its intention to sell San Damiano for private development. Shortly thereafter, Monona Mayor Mary O’Connor, with approval from the Monona City Council, negotiated an agreement with the Abbey to explore the community’s interest in conserving the property as a public asset.

Drawing upon decades of relevant professional experience, Alder Nancy Moore spearheaded the effort to strategically explore the conservation of the property and its use as a public asset. A small steering committee was formed to manage negotiations with the Norbertines, and the City Council commissioned a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study to determine the community’s interest in, and philanthropic capacity for, a project of this magnitude and importance.  

Interest was strong.  As Chris Homburg said in his response to the study:  

“The opportunity for public access to the lake and the preservation of the property is as large of an opportunity as I can see us ever having. For generations! This public space would be cherished for generations to come.”

Another significant finding of the Feasibility Study was the revelation that San Damiano is widely viewed as more than just a City of Monona resource. With the City of Madison immediately to the north and east, and amidst the ongoing development of Madison’s East Side, the property most often was articulated by Study respondents as a Lake Monona (rather than City of Monona) destination.  

Armed with the Feasibility Study findings in late 2020, the City successfully negotiated for, and unanimously approved, the purchase of the property for $8.6M, well below its appraised fair market value.

Later, in December of 2020, the Dane County Board of Supervisors – in support of an initiative led by Supervisor and Monona resident Sarah Smith – demonstrated a similar commitment to this extraordinary site, with a capital appropriation of $2M towards the purchase. The sale of the property was finalized in June of 2021.

Alder Nancy Moore, Friends President Andrew Kitslaar, and Monona Mayor Mary O'Connor.
Alder Nancy Moore, Friends President Andrew Kitslaar, and Monona Mayor Mary O'Connor.
Master planning—

A year of community engagement & planning.

The San Damiano Project Steering Committee was formed in August of 2021 by the Monona City Council. The mission of the Committee is to engage the community in the development of a financially feasible master plan that conserves San Damiano as a public asset. The planning process is scheduled to take place from September of 2022 through the end of 2023. Stay informed and be involved in the San Damiano planning process.
Fisherman at sunset on Lake Monona

San Damiano estimated timeline


Fundraising campaign and execution of San Damiano master plan as designed.

Summer 2022 - Late 2023

Master planning & community input for the San Damiano property.

June 2022

FOSD funds and the City Council approves the professional services contract of MSA to lead the planning process

April-May 2022

Request for proposals (RFPs) received and vetted. Recommendation made to Monona City Council to hire a professional firm.

August 2021

City approves steering committee in partnership with the Friends to guide the planning process.

June 2021

City closes on San Damiano purchase. Property opens to the public.

May 2021

City approves Memorandum of Understanding with the Friends of San Damiano.

December 2020

Dane County commits $2M to purchase.

October 2020

Public/private partnership formed between City of Monona and Friends of San Damiano.

September 2020

City successfully negotiates for San Damiano.

"It's just massive. It has more lakefront access than any other park in Monona I can think of. More green space. More trees."
Katherine Roberts
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