Now that an 84-acre area containing wetlands and space for passive recreation has been purchased, the Waunakee Village Board has given the site a name of the O’Malley Marsh.

The agenda item was included under the Consent Agenda at the village board’s Dec. 16 meeting, but Village Trustee Gary Herzberg asked that it be pulled for discussion.

Herzberg noted that the O’Malley family worked hard to see their land purchased for conservation.

“I think it’s a great addition to the village,” Herzberg said.

The O’Malley Marsh is located along Hellenbrand Road and Main Street, across from Ripp Park and the dog park along Hwy. 19.

The purchase was made through the Groundswell Conservancy, which contributed $5,000 toward it. The State of Wisconsin’s Knowles Nelson Stewardship fund added $202,060, with the county adding $113,042, and a North American Wetland Conservation act grant, secured by the Groundswell Conservancy, providing $78,000. Waunakee chipped in $20,500.

Dave O’Malley attended Monday’s meeting.

“It took a while, but great things take time,” O’Malley said. He credited Jim Welsh from the Groundswell Conservancy for putting the pieces together.

“It’s nice to have the family name on it,” O’Malley said. “We also called it the marsh way back when.”

O’Malley said the family used to drive cattle there for grazing, and then from the marsh into town.

“We had a lot of good times playing out there as kids, shooting ducks and pheasants,” O’Malley said.

Village President Chris Zellner said as child, he would fish in the creek running through the area.

“And the muskrats would chase us out of there,” he added.

In addition to passive recreation, the marsh will help with stormwater and preventing flooding downstream, county officials have noted.

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