Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Plan For Bay View’s Zillman Park

Based on feedback, city changes course on now long-awaited refresh.

By - May 5th, 2023 06:11 pm
Zillman Park plan. Rendering by Quroum Architects.

Zillman Park plan. Rendering by Quroum Architects.

There’s a new plan for how to rehabilitate Zillman Park at the northern end of Bay View.

After multiple years of community meetings, city officials have changed the project plan and are now increasing the project budget.

“The resulting feedback differed from our original idea of just creating this new play space and updating the existing infrastructure,” said Department of City Development project manager Alyssa Remington on Tuesday when the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee reviewed the proposal.

The current 0.7-acre park, 2168 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is largely a green space. It’s one of 52 city-owned parks in the MKE Plays program.

“The desire we found was for a high degree of activation as well as flexible programming space… as well as less traditional play space for the children,” said Remington. “That, in turn, led to more paved space within the park and subsequently than the need for more green infrastructure elements to handle the increased stormwater needs.”

The city first approved a $500,000 financing plan in 2019 to rehabilitate the park. The project costs have now grown to $930,000, which Remington attributed to the revised plan and inflation.

“We’ve had great neighborhood feedback,” said Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. She said the less traditional play area, largely would be flexible for events or imaginative kids. A number of traditional playgrounds are located in other nearby parks, but Zillman Park would contain structures and landscaping that children could climb or sit on.

“I would describe it as playful without being a playground,” said MKE Plays director Joe Kaltenberg. The initial plan for the park called for a traditional playground.

A draft version of the plan was released for feedback in early 2022. The Department of Public Works is working with Quorum Architects on the park’s design.

The city’s investment in the park is part of a strategy to right-size its facilities in the area. Zillman is part of a three-park cluster including a playground on Allis Street and a basketball court on E. Bay St. near E. Lincoln Ave. The playground, 2156 S. Allis St., was last updated in 1994 and was already removed. The lot is now vacant. The basketball court will stay as-is for now.

The funding is coming from a small tax incremental financing district that captures the increased property tax revenue from the development of the KinetiK apartment complex. That building, immediately north of the park, opened in 2020. The new district’s debt would be paid off in 2024.

“We are able to use the [TIF] here, and that will allow other places that might not have that access to continue to get the investment they need,” said Dimitrijevic of not expending any MKE Plays funding.

The revised design is intended to better connect to KinetiK. Developer New Land Enterprises rebuilt E. Archer St., effectively an alley on the northern border of the park, into a plaza-like, wide sidewalk as part of the apartment complex’s development. The new design would link with the plaza and, should it happen, New Land’s planned Flour & Feed food hall in the base of the building with the park.

“It just really helps make it a more cohesive space with the neighborhood around it as well,” said Remington of the design.

The committee unanimously approved the proposal. The full council is expected to vote on the proposal Tuesday.

E. Ward St., KinetiK and S. Kinnickinnic Ave border the triangular park. Beyond benches and trees, the only amenities in the park are a Bublr Bikes docking station, a historical marker honoring Bay View’s immigrant industrial workers and the 12-foot-tall, welded-steel sculpture titled “Bud” by artist and former Bay View resident Carl Billingsley. The park is named after Billingsley’s wife’s grandfather Erwin Zillman (1888-1970), who represented the area on the Common Council from 1948 to 1956 and 1958 to 1964 as well as serving as publisher of the Bay View Observer newspaper from 1934 to 1958 and authoring his own Bay View history book So You Will Know.

For more on KinetiK, see our 2020 coverage.


Park Photos

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Related Legislation: File 221926

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: New Plan For Bay View’s Zillman Park”

  1. DAGDAG says:

    $930,000 for a miniscule park like this? Seriously? Just turn it into a dog park (because its just dead grass, weeds, and people use it for that now and don’t pick up after) and call it a day. And you wonder why the City is broke?

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