“Three Bridges Park” to Open on July 20th
Partners launch capital campaign to complete fundraising
MILWAUKEE –– On Thursday May 16th,“Three Bridges Park” was announced as the name selected for the new park opening this summer in the Menomonee Valley just east of Miller Park, beneath the 35th and 27th Street Viaducts. The name selection was the result of a community-wide call for name suggestions. Three Bridges Park will open to the public on Saturday July 20, 2013.
The 24-acre park, which is located along the southern bank of the Menomonee River, is being created as part of Menomonee Valley – From the Ground Up – a series of interconnected projects to improve access to jobs, environmental education, outdoor recreation and neighborhood vitality. Partners in this effort include Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, City of Milwaukee, Menomonee Valley Partners, and the Urban Ecology Center. Other From the Ground Up projects have included a six-mile extension of the Hank Aaron State Trail, the Valley Passage and the development of the third branch of the Urban Ecology Center at 37th and Pierce Street. The July 20th opening of Three Bridges Park will be the last major milestone in the From the Ground Up effort.
The park is being built on a former rail yard that was vacant for decades. The park will feature one mile of accessible hiking trails, river access for fishing and canoeing, community gardens and new bike/pedestrian bridges providing access to the Mitchell Park Domes and the surrounding neighborhoods. The park will be cooperatively owned by the State and City and will become a part of the Hank Aaron State Trail. Urban Ecology Center will program Three Bridges Park as the outdoor science classroom of their new Menomonee Valley branch located south of the Valley Passage – one of the three newly-constructed bike and pedestrian bridges.
The name unveiling is accompanied by an announcement that 90% of the funds needed to complete the entire $25 million From the Ground Up effort have been secured. A grass-roots fundraising campaign has been launched to raise the remaining funds by the end of this summer. Menomonee Valley Partners and Urban Ecology Center will lead the fundraising for the last 10% or $2.5 million. Donations will support science education and outdoor recreation programs for area youth and families, a land restoration effort in the new park, and the building of community gardens and other park amenities. More information can be found at www.menomoneevalley-fromthegroundup.org.
The selection of the name Three Bridges Park comes after a community-wide invitation to submit suggestions. In all, 777 submissions were received, many of which included lengthy descriptions including Valley history, personal stories and visions for what the park will become. A Selection Committee was formed, comprised of the park’s public sector owners, partnering non-profit organizations, representatives of nearby neighborhoods, and community leaders. This group set criteria, reviewed the submissions, and is recommending Three Bridges Park to public officials. The name will be presented to the Milwaukee Common Council and Wisconsin Natural Resources Board for formal approval within the next month.
The Selection Committee picked Three Bridges Park in part because it will be way finding, helping people find the three bridges that serve as entrances to the park. One of the three bridges, the Valley Passage, is located at 37th Street and opened in November 2010. The other two bike/pedestrian bridges are still under construction and will open with the rest of the park July 20th, with one located at 33rd Court and the other linking the Valley to the Clark Square neighborhood at the Mitchell Park Domes.
“The word ‘bridge’, as well as the concepts of bridging and community connections were themes throughout the submissions,” said Laura Bray, Executive Director of Menomonee Valley Partners, who participated on the Selection Committee. “The name helps direct people to the new iconic structures created, but on a deeper level, the name captures the spirit of the effort to transform this area of the city into a place that connects people to jobs, nature and each other.”
In a letter that will be submitted to public officials, the Selection Committee wrote, “This park offers a chance to create a place for people to come together in what was once widely thought of as the dividing line in our community. The significance of the name goes as far back as the native tribes and spans Father Groppi’s march across the Valley and Hank Aaron’s accomplishments playing baseball in the Valley’s west end. The Menomonee Valley has a rich narrative of bridging the past to the future, bridging north to south, and bridging early manufacturing to Nextgen production. Three Bridges Park itself will bridge nature and the city, allowing neighbors to cross over the industrial corridor and access a place of respite in the heart of the city. The park’s programming will also help bridge the past and the future, educating about the rich history of this land and connecting people through ongoing volunteer activities.”
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