Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Parks Preparing for New, Improved Harley Park

Former Highland Park to get extensive landscaping and then funding from Harley Davidson.

By - Aug 23rd, 2023 10:35 am

Highland Park. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

After years of neglect, the new Harley Park, formerly known as Highland Park, is set to get some much-needed TLC.

Milwaukee County Parks is looking for contractors that can take on an extensive clearing and cutting job at Harley Park, clearing out a line of overgrown trees and invasive species on the north end of the park to make way for improvements there that will be funded by The Harley-Davidson Foundation.

Earlier this year, the Milwaukee County Board approved a deal that renamed the park for the motorcycle company in exchange for $250,000 worth of park improvements and another $100,000 set aside in a fund for long-term maintenance. But before those improvements can take place, Parks needs the park cleaned up.

Under the deal, the county will continue to own the park. As James Tarantino, deputy parks director put it in April, “Basically, everything would remain status quo, except for the name of the park and the improvements that would be coming.”

The smaller 3.4-acre park sits sandwiched between the corporate campuses for Harley-Davidson and Molson-Coors. It has not been a heavily used park in recent years and it is in desperate need of a manicure. Its playground was removed in 2022. At the time it was the oldest playground in the parks system.

“Highland Park was in need of maintenance that frankly, the Parks Department could not spare the resources to update,” Sup. Peter Burgelis, whose district includes Highland Park, said in April.

The maintenance needs of the 15,000-acre parks system represent a significant challenge for Parks which has a limited budget and a fraction of the workforce it once had.

Harley Davidson’s interest in improving the park is connected to the company’s plans to redevelop several adjacent parking lots into a large community park and event space called “The Hub.” The improvements at Harley Park are intended to bring them in line with the future redeveloped site.

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Categories: MKE County, Parks

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