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 preserving the property as a public asset.

Drawing upon decades of relevant professional experience, Alder Nancy Moore spearheaded the effort to strategically explore the property’s development and 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, the City successfully negotiated for, and unanimously approved, the purchase of the property for $8.6M, well below its appraised fair market value. The City is set to close on the property’s purchase in June of 2021.    

In late 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 2021 capital appropriation of $2M towards the purchase.

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 transformation.

The transformation of San Damiano, as with any park or open space, will require a master plan. The planning process, which will commence after a period of time where the public can experience the property, is anticipated to take at least a year.

Watch this space and subscribe for updates to keep abreast of developments.
Fisherman at sunset on Lake Monona

Our estimated timeline

September 2020

City successfully negotiates for San Damiano.

October 2020

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

December 2020

Dane County commits $2M to purchase.

May 2021

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

June 2021

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

August 2021

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

Early 2022 - Late 2023

Master planning on San Damiano property transformation.


Fundraising campaign and execution of San Damiano transformation as designed.

"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
Subscribe to our mailing list—

Stay in the loop on San Damiano Monona

NOTE: We respect your personal information and will use your contact details appropriately.