The Dane County Board of Supervisors has voted to approve leasing 41 acres of agricultural land on the Waunakee-Westport border, while also expanding public access to walking paths around the property, County Supervisor Tim Kiefer announced.
The four-year lease renewal agreement, which was approved unanimously by the board at its meeting on Jan. 7, will generate $9,840 in annual rental income for the county.
As part of the lease, the farmer will be required to mow and maintain 15-foot strips around the edges of the fields for use as walking paths. Some of these perimeter paths are already in place, and additional perimeter paths will be added under the new lease.
The lease agreement was supported by county board member Tim Kiefer, whose county board district includes the Southbridge subdivision directly across Woodland Drive from the farm fields.
“This lease is a good deal for the taxpayers because it maintains public access to the open space while also generating rental income,” Kiefer said. “The paths around the fields are already used by hikers and dog walkers, and this lease agreement will expand that public access to additional paths.”
Over the long term, the county plans to restore the agricultural fields for environmental and recreational use. A paved bike and pedestrian trail has already been constructed along the Woodland Drive frontage. The State Capitol dome can be seen in the distance from a hilltop on the property, and the land is surrounded on two sides by hardwood forests.
The 41-acre parcel is located east of Woodland Drive and north of Enchanted View Lane. The land was purchased by the county government in 2008.
“Agricultural leases are intended as a temporary use for county-owned land,” Kiefer said. “This agricultural lease is an interim step to preserving this open space in the midst of rapidly growing suburban development.”
“This ultimate purpose of this open space is to benefit the community,” Kiefer said. “As a member of the county board, I welcome ideas for the long-term use for this property, whether that be parkland, prairie, or something else entirely.”