In the late 1990s, former County Executive Tom Ament proposed selling more than 300 acres in the County Grounds Northeast Quadrant (see map). Almost overnight, “Save the County Grounds" lawn signs were everywhere!
This outpouring of public opposition led to the creation of
a Northeast Quadrant Land Use Plan that set boundaries for a business
development zone of approximately 66 acres on the west end of the property and
set aside approximately 55 acres of naturalized parkland in the middle of the
property. To create holding ponds to address flooding, the easternmost section
of the property was allocated to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District. This plan was developed by Kubala Wasatko Architects and served as the consensus plan representing all interests.
As active participants in the public hearings and planning sessions that went into the land use plan, we were thrilled when it was adopted by the Wauwatosa Common Council but deeply disappointed that the County Board of Supervisors never took formal action to adopt it (despite having paid half of the expenses to create it). Until the plan is adopted by the County Board, the 55 acres of naturalized parkland could be threatened by future development plans.
Recently, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago outlined a plan to create a new campus for their School of Engineering on the County Grounds Northeast Quadrant. UWM would purchase 89 acres; 66 acres designated for business development plus another 23 acres from the 55 designated as naturalized parkland. Once purchased by UWM, Santiago plans to sell some of this land to businesses that would work with the school on medical technology initiatives.
We support UWM and the great education it provides for the members of our community. We do not take exception to UWM building its engineering campus on the County Grounds, however we feel strongly that the designated 55 acres of naturalized parkland should be forever protected against development by any organization regardless of their other good works in our community.
Representatives from The Park People, Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers, and the Sierra Club met with officials from UWM late last year to inform them of our stand on this issue. Recently UWM came before the County Board Economic and Community Development Committee to formalize their offer to purchase 89 acres not only for the school, but also to resell to businesses.
At this point in time the best scenario to preserve the identified parkland on the County Grounds would be for the County Board of Supervisors to adopt the Kubala Washatko plan and limit the sale of land to those acres designated for business development.