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Soil Removal to begin July 10 in Garden Park Locust & Bremen: Commentary

Garden Park

Vince Bushell

From destruction will this lot arise anew? Again.
The Pulaski building, once home to a movie theater, a grocery turned Gordon Park Co-op, one of the Outpost Co-op iterations, and a couple of basement bars was the site of a failed renewal project in the late ‘80’s. It was finally torn down in 1994.The demolition resulted in contaminated fill being dumped in the foundation of the old building. A clay filled, litter strewn lot was the result.
The vacant lot blossomed into Garden Park and became home to Gardener’s Market in 1996. Again this lot will be rendered a blank slate. It will be leveled. It has to be destroyed in order to save it. Begone contaminated soil. But will it be saved? Does Riverwest have the will to fight for this open space?
Every tree and shrub will be removed from the interior of Garden Park. The city has taken ownership and has grant money to do the cleanup.

Here is a vision for the future.
Keep it green space. Keep the market on this corner in the heart of Riverwest. Add a small building, possibly with a coffee shop, with public restrooms and access to power and water for the garden and market. Keep it public space. How do we get there? Come to RNA meetings and voice your opinion. Volunteer to help rebuild the park this summer and fall. Support Gardener’s Market this summer.
Milwaukee Urban Gardens (MUG) may help with long term planning and ownership of what has become a summer focal point for our community. They have shown interest in the past and are willing to talk with us about the future of this garden and market space.
The farmers market will most likely move across the street to the parking lot next to Klinger’s Bar for part of this season, beginning July 10, so keep on coming. The remediation work is expected to be completed in about one month. The restoration of the garden, if we choose Garden Park Continued to do that, will take years. This upheaval was expected and is necessary for us or anyone else to own this land and use it. The no-mans land that the lot was would not last forever. It is time for public opinion to weigh in on the future.
Riverwest resident and city empolyee Benjamin Timm brought me the tidings that this remediation must happen now, not by his choice but because it makes the most economic sense to do it now. Don’t blame the messenger, for Benjamin Timm is here to help us through this and understands the dynamics of the stiuation.
If you have questions on the process you can call Tim at the Department of City Development. He is a Senior Environmental Project Coordinator with the City. His number is (414) 286-5756.

Riverwest Currents online edition – July, 2006