Environmental Updates On Wauwatosa Development & Fondy Market Green Space

Feb 8, 2017

Two very different projects illustrate the overlap of green space and development.

Several hundred residents turned out Tuesday evening for an open house to discuss master planning of Wauwatosa's Life Sciences District. Many people are riveted to a small wooded area they fear could be developed. While today, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett unveiled a 3/5 acre project that will blend storm water management and public space.

FONDY FARMERS MARKET GREEN SPACE

Artist Ray Chi created design of a boardwalk system within the Fondy park. MSOE students are working on a performance stage to be incorporated in the park.
Credit Ray Chi

It doesn’t yet have a name, but grants from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, or MMSD, and the Fund for Lake Michigan helped fund the storm water management piece on the long-vacant lot adjacent to the market.

Milwaukee’s latest HOME GR/OWN green space will extend a project now underway from 8th to 27th Streets.  The city’s Environmental Collaboration Office, or ECO, is coordinating the initiative that includes hanging baskets and landscaped lots to encourage neighbors to walk and shop.

Fondy Food Center executive Jennifer Casey has high hopes for the project that will take shape next to the market, including serving as a gathering space for Lindsay Heights and Fond du Lac Avenue area residents.

Vacant lot will soon be transformed next to market.
Credit Susan Bence

“We’ve got a very impressive timeline here. Phase one of the park is slated to open in September of 2017. Which coincides with Fondy Farmers Market harvest fest and centennial celebration. But personally I’m also really excited about the public health component.” Casey adds, “The implications for greenspace really mean a lot to public health in terms of mental wellness, public safety and physical activity. All of those are really opportunities to continue to contribute to the wellness of this neighborhood.”

Other partners include Reflo, which is contributing to the stormwater management design and ReciproCITY, which describes itself as a mobile cultural center.

“A lot of residents want to see some new activities in this neighborhood, so you have some passionate folks in this area,” says ReciproCITY director Fidel Verdin. ”We sort of act as a glue in a lot of projects that we work with – glue between arts and culture, glue between community and city, glue between community institutions and residents.”

Verdin says his group will focus on messaging associated with the project. “How we convey the message and the purpose of this project – sustainability, catching water and building community."

MSOE team at work (clock-wise starting bottom right) Colin Saad, Kate Wallschlaeger, Cailin Dilday and Ethan Van Thiel.
Credit Susan Bence

Students both from UW-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee School of Engineering, or MSOE, will also play a role in the project.

Kate Wallschlaeger is part of a MSOE freshman university scholars honors program.  Dilday's team is designing at stage for the park.

“A big portion of our first trimester in this class was learning about the community and the struggles in Milwaukee. Once you learn of all those things, I mean, we came from pretty upscale backgrounds compared to a lot of these people, and so trying to be able to relate to that and then to be able to improve their situation in a pretty significant way,” Wallschager says. “That’s really our motivation for the project.”

WAUWATOSA LIFE SCIENCES DISTRICT PLANNING

Future of natural area in question within Wauwatosa's evolving Life Sciences District master plan.
Credit Susan Bence

The city is tasked with balancing economic development and preservation of green space in the already bustling 1200-acre corridor.

People waiting their turn to enter meeting room.
Credit Susan Bence

Trevor Bawden was among the 390-plus people who attended Tuesday evening’s meeting. So many people converged on city hall, that a crowd of people had to wait their turn to enter the meeting room.

When WUWM's Susan Bence arrived, people were crammed in the hallway outside the meeting room at city hall. It turned out only a portion of the crowd was allowed into the meeting room at one time.

That left people like Bawden disgruntled.

“I’m a little disappointed by the fact that we’re not all allowed into the meeting right now. There’s a lot of us waiting outside. I’ve been waiting over an hour. They stopped about three-quarters of us at the door, which was very disappointing.” He adds, ”Because I would have thought after the first turnout they would have allowed more of us in.”

Bawden is referring to a county board meeting last month. Where again, many people showed up to learn more about this plan.

Once in the meeting room, attendees could queue up to laptops to complete a comment form, which can be completed online until February 17, 2017.

Credit Michelle Maternowski

People were also encouraged to scribble their thoughts on post-it-notes. A lot of people did so. Some comments included ‘Create walking paths, not roads’ and ‘No more roads. No more development. No more stores.’

Sheila Nolte had a lot to say on her sticky note.

“I made the comment that when the winds come from the west, smoke from the power plant actually goes down into the woods, that’s the area where they want to develop and put apartments. And also studies have shown that people living near the freeway, there’s higher incident of asthma. So, the woods and all of the natural area, helps to clean those pollutants. So instead of developing in that area, they really need to keep it as it is.” Nolte adds, “and besides the wildlife.”

Some of the debated natural area is not zoned park, but rather medical institution.

Teig Whaley-Smith fielded questions from residents at Tuesday's open house.
Credit Susan Bence

Milwaukee County's director of administrative services Teig Whaley-Smith says it’s the county’s job to protect environmentally sensitive areas as park, and areas that are not sensitive should be put to the best public use, which he says, is often development.

He says in this case, “We think there’s about 30 to 35 acres that are environmentally sensitive that should be added as parks land, and it would be the county executive’s goal to add that to the parkland area; and then the site that is not environmentally sensitive, that we come up with a community plan to redevelop that, so it can add to jobs and tax base in the area."

A GRAEF consultant, who is coordinating public outreach, says another open house will be scheduled for sometime in March or April, and a public hearing is also in the works.

The final Life Sciences District master plan requires approval by the Wauwatosa Common Council.