Garden Park: The Story Continues

As reported earlier this year, Garden Park, at the corner of Bremen and Locust Streets, was one of two Milwaukee recipients of federal brownfield remediation money, a project in which Department of City Development brownfields specialist and Riverwest resident Benjamin Timm has played a key role. The award of $125,000, part of the first round of Wisconsin’s new Greenspace and Public Facilities grants, was announced at a joint press conference on May 20 by Mayor Tom Barrett and Governor Jim Doyle. The money was to be used to eliminate the possibility of residents coming in contact with contaminated fill that was placed in the foundation hole of the former Pulaski Building that was on the site. This contamination was an unfortunate result of the demolition of the condemned building that took place in1994. It seems the contractor hired to demolish the building was none too careful on the source of the fill used to fill the basement hole. So the lot has been in limbo ever since. It was on the city’s do not acquire list and former ownership was held by non-existent corporations. Since 1995 the community adopted the vacant lot and named it Garden Park. It now sports flowerbeds and trees and bustles with farmers’ market activities every Sunday afternoon from summer to fall. Next year, expect to see the lot completely dug up. The community will have to start again, but the good news is it will stay under Riverwest control as a green space and market for as long as the community wants. At a recent meeting Timm indicated that the City would apply for additional funds (a federal Environmental Protection Act Grant of $300,000) to completely remove, not just cover up as originally planned, the contamination. The sum is a little suffering through the renewal and a big reward. Riverwest will have a clean lot to garden and enjoy.