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Kilbourn Park Trust Planning Continues

by Jay Kirk

The Kilbourn Park Trust Planning Committee met twice in April to discuss current developments regarding Kilbourn Park. In an April 1 meeting, Tom Schneider, executive director of COA Youth & Family Centers, reported on lease negotiations with the City of Milwaukee. After lengthy discussions, a new leasing proposal has been submitted to COA. A quick scan of the document by Schneider indicated that while it represented progress there were still issues to be resolved. The conversation with the City will continue. Co-chairs of the Program Committee reported on their work, identifying groups that would use the park — including neighbors, families, boaters, artists, bikers, and dog walkers. They also made note of organizations likely to have an interest in the Park – condo associations, local businesses such as Lakefront Brewery, program providers such as COA, the Urban Ecology Center, the Academy of Cream City Mentors, and some schools – Malcolm X, OW Holmes, and Pierce. Possible park activities include July 4 fireworks, picnics, gardening, revivals, a Riverwest art festival, and various forms of entertainment particularly using the amphitheater. COA will use part of the Park for its Goldin Summer Camp (see listing page 20). The Kickers are sponsoring soccer for 7 to 9-year-olds on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Committee identified some challenges for the Kilbourn Park Planning Committee. How will the community connect with the Park? How can we encourage community members to take responsibility for or invest in the Park? Is there a vision or mission for the Park? Schneider reviewed the current status and planning for the landscaping of the Park. The grading of the site has been completed and some landscaping has been done. Sod has been placed on the side of the bluff to retard erosion. The City has decided to renovate the toilet facility itself. A single firm will plan the pathways, a shed, and the amphitheater. Since the Committee wishes to have input into landscape planning, a special meeting has been scheduled. Schneider will attempt to have all of the principals including City planners attend. At the special meeting on April 10, Michael Wisniewski of the Department of City Development and John Gishnock of Applied Ecological Services met with the Committee. Gishnock discussed planting plans for the park including what is already planned for the slopes. He described the prairie vegetation that will be added noting that the plants will be attractive and they will control erosion along the bluff. The prairie vegetation will be cut at least twice during the first year. The blades of the lawnmower are set high to cut only the weeds and retain the prairie plantings. This cutting process is repeated in the second and third years. In the third to fifth years, the area will be burned to destroy the weeds, leaving the prairie vegetation undisturbed. The burning reproduces what occurs in the natural environment. Committee members asked about the addition of trees on top of the bluff. Wisniewski responded that the City would definitely be able to plant trees and requested that the Committee provide suggestions for the type of trees that they would like to see planted. The next Kilbourn Park planning committee was scheduled for Tuesday, April 29, at 5:30 p.m. in the 2nd floor Board Room at COA Youth & Family Centers, 909 E. North Ave., the day the Riverwest Currents went to press. Agenda items included recommendations for any planting or landscaping on the top portion of the park (e.g. tree planting, bushes, re-sodding). The group will attempt to reach a consensus regarding trees that are preferred so that they may be planted in the spring if appropriate, as well as discussing proposed park programs and activities. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
by Jay Kirk