University of Wisconsin–Madison

UniverCity Year Monona

The City of Monona is a small community of almost 8,000 residents located on the east shore of Lake Monona and 7 miles from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. It was incorporated as a village in 1938 and during the 1950s experienced substantial population growth. After annexing several properties for residential, commercial and industrial growth, Monona eventually became landlocked. It is now the oldest community in Dane County and is seeking solutions to its aging housing stock, how to grow without the ability to expand, and how to preserve its small-town community feel and natural resources during redevelopment.

Because of its close proximity to the university, and the strong support of Mayor Bob Miller, Monona was chosen for the inaugural year of the UniverCity Year program at UW-Madison. The partnership has garnered much media coverage.

Project news

Monona celebration imageHelp us celebrate the successful completion of our partnership on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 5:00 p.m.


Learn more about UniverCity Year Monona in this UW-Madison video featuring Monona Mayor Bob Miller and UW-Madison students and staff.

Four Project Areas

How can we ensure Monona parks will be enjoyed by all for generations to come?

Students are researching and recommending improvements to the master plans for Ahuska and Winnequah parks. They are focusing on increasing the usability of the parks, including improvements to lighting, pedestrian paths, sports fields, and restroom facilities. UW-Madison courses will also investigate sustainable environmental management improvements like irrigation, drainage, landscaping, shoreline restoration and turf management.

Fall 2016 courses
Spring 2017 courses

How do we balance the need for historic preservation and stability while addressing community change and redevelopment opportunities?

Students are examining the current housing climate in Monona to inform redevelopment goals and select sites for redevelopment. Focus areas include affordable housing, preservation of single-family neighborhoods, and development of mixed-use and commercial real estate to draw new families and businesses to the City of Monona.

Fall 2016 courses
Spring 2017 courses

How can Monona connect citizens and communicate effectively in a new era of technological innovation?

Students are helping revamp the city’s digital resources for residents. Targets include researching the costs and benefits of a citywide Wi-Fi infrastructure, improving the usability of the city website, developing apps, expanding the city’s presence on social media and providing programming for the community radio station. Students are also tackling less-visible technical challenges like streamlining the city’s electronic record-keeping and filing systems.

Fall 2016 courses

(Download the semester summary report.)

Spring 2017 courses

How can we make transportation safer and more accessible?

Students are planning improvements to Monona’s transportation infrastructure, ensuring that biking and walking routes to transit and key destinations are safe and accessible to all. They will also examine the social behaviors around active transportation, design a campaign to encourage biking and walking to schools, and assess the health benefits of increasing active transportation options.

Spring 2016 course
Summer 2016 course
Fall 2016 course
Spring 2017 courses