Dane County is planning a $1.6 million expansion of Babcock County Park in McFarland. The expansion includes improved accessibility for people with disabilities and the addition of two properties to expand the shoreline.

The park, which is the county’s most-used lake access point, will be renovated to help people with disabilities enjoy the park and waterways.

Darren Marsh, parks director for Dane County Parks, said the county plans to construct closer parking to facilities and provide access ramps to docks and piers. This includes wider ramps, a pier that will stretch into the water and hard surfaces for moving around the park. There are plans for a lift that could be laid down to transition people directly into a boat over a ramp rather than being lifted into the boat.

“They’re also looking at fishing piers for areas so people with disabilities could be out with families and fishing from shore,” Marsh said.

The county has been working with Access Ability Wisconsin, Take a Vet Fishing, a Madison spinal injury group and other organizations to solicit input for improvements.

The county is working to secure two properties along the south side of the Yahara River that would add over 650 feet of shoreline along the Yahara River and Lake Waubesa.

Marsh said the county is in the process of planning accommodations and securing the land. The expansion is expected to be complete in one to one and a half years. Marsh said once there are conceptual plans, the county will either do the work itself or bid out some work. They hope to raise funds from the private sector in 2020.

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