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Milwaukee unveils plans for stormwater park

Milwaukee unveils plans for stormwater park

Milwaukee — Mayor Tom Barrett is seeking public input on recently unveiled plans for the city’s latest HOME GR/OWN green space on a long-vacant lot adjacent to the Fondy Farmers Market. The lot will be transformed into a stormwater park filled with sustainability features and a new gathering space for Lindsay Heights and Fond du Lac Avenue area residents. This green space project is funded through the City of Milwaukee, Fund for Lake Michigan, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Phase 1 will be built in 2017, installing a complete stormwater management system and a hardscaped, landscaped park. Given the size and scope of this project, it is considered to be a multi-year project. Resident and stakeholder outreach and design sessions along with neighborhood surveying to solicit advice, comments and design ideas began in November and continues through February, 2017.

The City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO), through its HOME GR/OWN program, is coordinating the project that is an extension of ECO’s North Avenue greenscaping project now underway from 8th to 27th Streets, funded with the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative and City funds. The city has been working to beautify that segment of North Avenue with hanging baskets, landscaped lots, and other improvements to support walking and shopping.

“The City of Milwaukee is expanding its revitalization of Lindsay Heights by the creation of this new green space,” Mayor Barrett said. “This is another example of our public/private partnerships enhancing the quality of life and helping to spur further economic development into the neighborhoods. I encourage residents to attend our community outreach session to assist us in accomplishing this mission.”

Mayor Barrett developed the HOME GR/OWN Initiative in order to find healthy new uses for City of Milwaukee vacant lots to create jobs, increase access to healthy food to residents and improve neighborhood quality of life. Since its creation in 2013 after being named a Finalist in the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, HOME GR/OWN has created 30 new pocket parks, orchards, and community gardens from over 50 vacant lots.

“Mayor Barrett and our HOME GR/OWN program have worked to increase vitality in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods,” said Erick Shambarger, Director of Environmental Sustainability. “This honor recognizes the powerful role that community collaboration plays in our projects, between local government, non-profits, and the community at large.”

The current list of partners for the Fondy Green Space include the City of Milwaukee’s HOME GR/OWN initiative, Strong Neighborhoods Plan, Department of City Development and Department of Public Works. It also includes the Fondy Food Center, Reflo, Business Improvement District #32, ReciproCITY, Halquist Stone, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Community Design Solutions and the Energy Exchange.

Funding partners to date include the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Fund for Lake Michigan. Many of these partners have worked together previously to create new green spaces such as the MLK Peace Place and the award-winning Ezekiel Gillespie Park.

“For years, we’ve been hearing from vendors and shoppers alike that they’d like the vacant lot transformed into a positive space for Fondy Farmers Market goers and the neighborhood,” said Jennifer Casey, Executive Director of the Fondy Food Center. “Fondy Food Center is thrilled to be working with our partners to turn this space into a community asset as the community has been requesting and we look forward to utilizing the park to improve and expand our current events and programming.”

The site will feature significant stormwater management features, helping to reduce basement flooding in the area surrounding the now vacant lot. The project team plans to add solar power, seating, trees, native perennials and artistic, educational signage to create a healthy gathering space for the neighborhood.

“The Fondy Farmers Market project represents an exciting new approach to managing urban storm water runoff,” said Justin Hegarty, Executive Director of Reflo. “The innovative project will be the first of its kind in several respects and will repurpose a vacant lot to meaningfully detain and treat stormwater runoff from the surrounding buildings and streets.”

“We want to get in front of as many neighborhood groups as possible, young and old, in addition to conducting paper surveys and focus groups as well as the neighborhood design sessions,” said Fidel Verdin, co-director of ReciproCity I want the space to be fun, educational and relaxing all at the same time.”

It’s because of HOME GR/OWN’s community partnerships and history of collaboration that it was one of 100 programs recently named a semifinalist in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition though Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. HOME GR/OWN advanced from a pool of more than 500 applications from all 50 states and will compete to be named a Finalist in the competition. The grand prize is $100,000.

More information on the project is available at https://city.milwaukee.gov/homegrownmilwaukee/FondyPark#.WKRkl9IrKHt.