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Revisiting the Reservoir

One of the earliest names for the Riverwest neighborhood was a Polish word meaning “Beyond the Green Hill.” As new residents moved north across the river from the Brady Street area, they thought of the reservoir hill as a defining boundary of the neighborhood. That “green hill” has been the focus of a lot of neighborhood attention in the past few years. In Volume 1 Number 1 of the Riverwest Currents, published February, 2002, the front page story was titled “Reservoir No Longer Needed.” That article explored the impending changes to the Reservoir section of Kilbourn Park, located north of North Avenue between Bremen and Booth Streets. In November of 2001, Milwaukee Water Works superintendent Carrie Lewis had called for a series of planning meetings for Riverwest residents, designed to gain neighborhood input into how the Park could be restructured if the Reservoir were no longer needed. In the almost three years since those meetings, much has changed. After a year-long test, the City Water Works determined that, indeed, the reservoir in Riverwest was not needed. Another important development came when the section of Kilbourn Park located along the bluff on the south side of North Avenue came under the control of the Kilbourn Kadish Park Committee, a coalition of neighborhood groups headed by COA Youth and Family Center. The group spearheaded programming in the park throughout last summer, and negotiated a long-term lease with the city. In an attempt to consolidate the neighborhood’s views on the topic of the reservoir’s future, the Development Committee of the Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA) drafted a position paper that was adopted by the group and sent to city and county officials (see sidebar). In November, Superintendent Lewis contacted the neighborhood through the RNA, beginning the process of once again looking at the Reservoir and its future in Riverwest. After the meetings held in 2002, Water Works agreed to come back to the neighborhood with a final model of the park. According to reports from Ms. Lewis, the time for that meeting is at hand. As of this writing, the date has not been set for the public meeting on the proposed changes to Reservoir Park, but it is anticipated to be held sometime this winter. It will be an important opportunity for Riverwest residents to make comments and decisions about the “green hill” that has helped define our neighborhood for so long.
by Janice Christensen