Menomonee Valley’s New 24-Acre “Three Bridges Park” Opens to Public Saturday July 20
Ceremony, community activities to launch major new urban river park
MILWAUKEE (July 9, 2013) –– Located just outside Downtown Milwaukee along the Menomonee River, the new 24-acre “Three Bridges Park” opens to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday July 20 with a dedication and free family celebration including kayak demonstrations, bike rides, fishing, food trucks and live music.
Three Bridges Park, the largest new park developed in Milwaukee in decades, marks the continued transformation of the Menomonee Valley – a former, long-abandoned rail yard – into an asset for families, children, fishers, hikers, bikers, boaters and businesses and employees of the area.
Three Bridges Park features two miles of accessible biking and walking trails, river access for fishing and canoeing, as well as three new bike/pedestrian bridges providing access to area residents and workers to the new park and jobs in the Valley.
The park is located just east of Miller Park and roughly covers the area between the 35th and 27th Street Viaducts and along the southern bank of the Menomonee River.
The July 20 opening kicks off at 10 a.m. with short group processions from each bridge to an area of the park across the 33rd Court Bridge. After a ceremonial blessing by a Potawatomi Tribe elder and remarks by officials at 10:15 a.m., the public will be able to participate in a variety of programmed activities throughout the park until 2 p.m.
Three Bridges Park will be cooperatively owned by the State and City and will become a part of the Hank Aaron State Trail. The Urban Ecology Center will program activities as the outdoor science classroom of their new Menomonee Valley branch, which is located at S. 37th and Pierce Streets on the south end of the new Valley Passage bike and pedestrian bridge.
In addition to the three new pedestrian/bike bridges crossing the Menomonee River, new asphalt paths have been created throughout the park and a canoe launch has been built on the river. Planting of prairie plants and trees is underway, and will soon grow to create a lush green belt in the heart of Milwaukee.
The park completion caps a series of $26 million in 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 projects have included the Urban Ecology Center Menomonee Valley branch, which opened in September 2012, and a six-mile extension of the Hank Aaron State Trail and the Valley Passage bridge, which opened in November 2010. The other two new bike/pedestrian bridges will open July 20 – one at 33rd Court and the other linking the Valley and the park to the Clark Square neighborhood at the Mitchell Park Domes.
The 4.5-mile wide Valley, just west of Downtown, was once a wild rice marsh and home to American Indians. During the Industrial Era, the Valley housed numerous industries, including the Milwaukee Roads Shops, an enormous complex that made rail cars and locomotives.
After the national decline of heavy industry and railroads, the Valley was largely abandoned and became an eyesore. Then, in the late 1990s, the city and non-profit Menomonee Valley Partners began to develop and execute plans to clean, green and revive the Valley for recreation and employment.
In the last 10 years, 35 companies have moved to or expanded in the Valley, 5,000 jobs have been created and the Valley is recognized as national model of economic and environmental sustainability.
Laura Bray, Executive Director of Menomonee Valley Partners, said the word “bridges” in the park’s name “captures the spirit of the community initiative that is transforming the Valley into a place that connects people to jobs, nature and each other.”
The federal, state and city governments along with private supporters have funded the project, and the City of Milwaukee’s Redevelopment Authority provided land for the park. Menomonee Valley Partners and Urban Ecology Center have launched a grassroots fund drive to raise the remaining support needed for 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 on the park initiative and fundraising can be found at www.menomoneevalley-fromthegroundup.org.
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Co-hosted by Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail, Menomonee Valley Partners, and Urban Ecology Center.