Doctors at Your Door and a Face-Lift for Baby Park

by Jan Christensen

The Riverwest Neighborhood Association met at 7 p.m. on August 12, 2003, at 604 E. Center St. It was announced at the meeting that interns from Columbia St. Mary’s Clinic are accompanying Community Partner Mark McInerney on his door-to-door route in the neighborhood. The goal is to increase neighborhood awareness of the Clinic, and to acquaint the doctors with community health concerns.

The neighborhood group working with Marina Lee approved a design for Baby Park at Bremen and Burleigh. A City Parks grant of $50,000 will provide new playground equipment and swings, and the fenced-in, paved area will be redesigned as a seating area. The back fence and brush will be removed. Vince Bushell and Marina Lee will mark trees in the brushline to be kept, and recommend other trees and shrubs for planting. Marina Lee will help neighborhood children create mosaics to be imbedded in walkways, and has proposals for benches and an entry archway. The suggestion was made to approach Mario Costantini and his company, La Luna Collection, for benches as well. A budget is being developed. Ald. Mike D’Amato, who reported on the Baby Park plan, also announced that he is working on a plan to install new playground equipment for Reservoir Park.

Four RNA committees offered reports.

Holton Street Revitalization

YMCA-CDC Director Jesse Greenlee and community organizer Jim Wilson met with Don Sargent of Riverworks, who reported on progress inventorying businesses on Holton Street and Center Street for the INRS program. Vince Bushell pointed out that RNA needs to request information concerning the bike lane proposed for Holton Street as part of that project.

The Matyas Building in the 2400 block of Holton is being developed by ABC Development and the Wisconsin Preservation Fund, with the upper floors planned as moderately-priced apartments and the first floor and basement to be available for a business or non-profit.

RISE (Riverwest Initiative for a Safe Environment)

The RISE group as an official entity has not been active recently, but some community members continue to meet with 5th District Captain Flores and Officer Bruce Scott on the first Thursday of each month. Jim Wilson attended the last meeting, and will continue to attend as a representative of RNA.

Police reported they have made two arrests that may be related to the fires on Bremen and Fratney Streets reported at last month’s meeting. It was noted that both police and fire departments need to be called about fires when arson may be an issue (e.g. garbage can fires), because the two departments don’t seem to have a method of communicating with each other.

It was suggested that Scean Rose attend the RISE meetings as a representative of the new Community Steps program. Scean reported that Community Steps was on hold for the present, after the River Horse became a target of suspicious activity. He also reported that police reaction to the problem was prompt.


Jerry Patzwald resigned as chair. It was the consensus of the group that the Development Committee continue as an ad hoc committee based on issues and that a new chairperson would be sought. Current projects still in progress include the completion and distribution of the Gentrification Position Paper.

There was a report on the Mandel development on Commerce Street. Basically, no matter what people in the neighborhood think, want, or do, there will be very expensive ($200,000 and up) condominiums along the river from Humboldt Avenue to the dam that will stick up two to three stories above the Jewel Osco parking lot. The developers will preserve some green space at the dam, with a public stair going down to the river. There will be a private park — Riverview Park — owned by the condominium project. One problem that the neighborhood might have some possibility of addressing successfully is ADA accessibility and access for a bike tail. Members are asked to call Alderwoman Marlene Johnson-Odom at 286-2221 and request that this accessibility be included in the plans.

Guardians of Green Space

David Middlebrook, the artist commissioned to create a piece of public art for the entrance to Gordon Park, is planning to install footings this fall. He is working on the marble pieces for the sculpture at his studio in California. Members of the community have contributed fingerprints that will be etched on the marble as part of the diversity theme of the sculpture.


The motion was passed to make RNA a non-profit corporation. Jan Christensen reported on progress in filling out the necessary forms. Nancy Centz, Tess Reiss, and Christopher Johns agreed to sign the registration papers for the state of Wisconsin. Nancy and others contributed the $35 for the registration fee. Jan will file the papers and present the materials for the IRS filing for approval next month. It was noted that we need to start preparing for elections this fall.

In other business:

Chris Johns reported on the Riverwest Investment Cooperative, a registered, for-profit cooperative with 17 members. The group’s goals include offering investment opportunities for people inside and outside of the neighborhood to purchase distressed properties, then rehab and sell them with a deed restriction for owner occupancy. It was noted during discussion that there are problems enforcing deed restrictions after the sale. It was also noted that Land Trusts allow that enforcement.

Glenda Puhek offered her services to begin creating an RNA logo.

Sonya Knauss reported on the newly-formed Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, a coalition of groups dedicated to preserving Milwaukee’s old neighborhoods.

The CDBG funding schedule has been released and was distributed. Ald. D’Amato reported that federal block grants for the upcoming year are down 10% overall.

Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 9 – September 2003