Mitchell Park Domes

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Leaders in Milwaukee County's parks department are asking residents to weigh in on the system via an online survey. That input will be used to help craft a master plan.

Why the planning?

Although Milwaukee County is rich with green space - 15,000 acres of parks, the century-old system comes with a price.

According to a 2009 audit, the parks face $200 million in deferred maintenance and addressing it will require the county to make some tough decisions.

LaToya Dennis

Wednesday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the Mitchell Park Domes an endangered historic place. Domes’ supporters hope the designation will galvanize community support around repairing the iconic structures.

Marti Mikkelson

Only one of the three Milwaukee County Domes will reopen Friday. The county shut down the 50-year-old horticultural, glass-encased oasis earlier this year after a piece of concrete fell from one.

On Friday, a ceremony will mark the reopening of the Show Dome, the one that features seasonal displays. Workers were making preparations this week.

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S Bence

On Tuesday, a Milwaukee County board committee approved spending another $500,000 to help move along repairs to the Mitchell Park Domes. Projected expenses are mounting county-wide for deferred maintenance projects. The cost of saving the domes could run $75 million. And recent estimates put the cost of replacing the aging county safety building at $190 million. While the county faces important choices, there is one option to help government’s lower costs.

S BenceF

The Milwaukee County Board invited residents to share their thoughts about the future of the Mitchell Park Domes on Wednesday. Over 250 people gathered in the park's greenhouse annex and voiced their support for reopening Domes.

The three bee-hive shaped glass structures, each featuring special plants, have been shuttered since February 6 as concerns mounted about crumbling concrete.

Michelle Maternowski

The Mitchell Park Domes are one of Milwaukee County’s most popular destinations.

County Executive Chris Abele shuttered the aging glass structures over the weekend after a piece of concrete the size of a tennis ball plummeted 20 feet into the desert dome.

Abele announced Monday all three domes will remain shut down until a fix is found. The ultimate answer could carry a price tag of tens of millions.

Construction crews began erecting the structures in 1959. The job took eight years.

S Bence

For decades, visitors have strolled the Mitchell Park Domes tropical flora, desert landscape and the seasonal "special" exhibit. But there's more going on that the public doesn't see.

The Journey House Packer Football Stadium in Mitchell Park has been recognized by Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation for building community.