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RNA Position Paper on Restoration of Reservoir Park

To: Mike Wisniewski, Department of City Development From: Riverwest Neighborhood Association Re: Reservoir Park and associated development Date: June 16, 2004 Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) Position Paper on Restoration of Reservoir Park Background: The Reservoir, located between North and Meinecke Avenues and Bremen and Booth Streets, is no longer needed for water storage by Milwaukee Water Works. Water Works Commissioner Carrie Lewis approached residents of Riverwest in November 2001 to ask for advice and direction on what Water Works might do with the property once it is fully decommissioned. She stated that the City had funds to restore the park and wanted to hear from neighbors about the shape it should take. Neighbors were involved in a series of brainstorming and planning sessions, including modeling what the reshaped park area might look like. Position: Based on discussions at that meeting, and ensuing discussions over the following two years, the RNA takes the following positions on the potential reconfiguration of our neighborhood urban green space: 1. A major asset of the park is its spectacular view of the city skyline. Access to this view should be preserved, and in fact should be encouraged with open access to the top of the hill. 2. The current shape of the hill, as approved and protected by the Historic Preservation Commission when it granted the reservoir Historic Preservation status, should be maintained. No great changes to the plateau’s height are desired. 3. Reservoir Park and Kilbourn Park are all one park and should be treated as such. Connectivity is important, and an ideal restructuring of the park would include a well-connected green space. 4. The land has been degraded under city ownership (ugly barbed wire fences, unkempt grass and trees, little litter pick-up to speak of, dilapidated and dangerous playground equipment). The City has a responsibility to the neighborhood to rectify this blight by providing for proper maintenance, either through its own work or through lease to a neighborhood organization that would contract to keep it up. The park should be restored to its best use, as determined in large part by neighborhood residents. 5. We would like the City to preserve as many trees as possible, and we advocate for the restoration of the American Legion Star design in the hillside. We do not want any portion of the park to be paved for parking. We would like to see a mix of uses for the park, possibly including but not limited to (and in no particular order): a fenced dog exercise area, a playground, a forum for public art, a scenic overlook, a sledding hill, a sheltered picnic area, an ice skating / skateboarding surface, and educational programming (COA, Urban Ecology Center, etc.). 6. Any reconstruction of North Avenue as it currently exists between Humboldt and Holton should be subject to neighborhood input. The RNA expects to be included in planning discussions and looks forward to continuing to play a role in the decision-making for this important neighborhood green space. Sincerely, Sonya Jongsma Knauss, Co-Chair RNA Development Committee , 414/265-4016 Vince Bushell, Chair, RNA Guardians of Green Space Committee , 414/265-7278 cc: Mayor Tom Barrett Ald. Willie Hines, President, Common Council Ald. Mike McGee, 6th District Ald. Robert Bauman, Chair, Public Improvements Ald. Mike D’Amato, 3rd District; Historic Preservation Commission Sup. Willie Johnson, Jr., 13th District Commissioner Carrie Lewis, Water Works