It opens to the public at 10 a.m. this Saturday, July 20.
Not only will I be there - I wouldn't miss it - but I will be photographing people who come. So, please join me and have a commemorative portrait made for this historic event.
In addition to picture taking there will be a dedication and family celebration with kayak demonstrations, bike rides, fishing, food trucks and live music.
From the official press release:
"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 new 33rd Court Pedestrian Bridge. After a ceremonial blessing by a Potawatomi Tribe leaders and remarks by officials at 10:15 a.m., the public is invited to enjoy scheduled activities throughout the park until 2 p.m., including live music by Paul Cebar and the Afro-Cuban / Latin Jazz band De La Buena."
You can read the entire press release at the end of this post. You can also find information about the event, including a map, at Menomonee Valley: from the ground up.
The Menomonee Valley Partners, Urban Ecology Center and DNR, primary sponsors of the park, hosted a preview last week. I managed to take a few photos. If the park looks bare, well, that's how it begins. Trees have been planted, seeds sown. This is the "before" that we will all look back on in ten years and more when it looks very different! I can't wait.
Menomonee Valley’s New 24-Acre
“Three Bridges Park”
Opens to Public This Saturday July 20
Ceremony, community activities to launch major new urban river park
MILWAUKEE (July 16, 2013) –– Located in the Menomonee Valley between Downtown Milwaukee and Miller Park along the Menomonee River, the new 24-acre “Three Bridges Park” opens to the public at 10 a.m. this 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 a popular destination for families, children, fishers, hikers, bikers, boaters and the growing numbers of businesses and employees in 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 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 new 33rd Court Pedestrian Bridge. After a ceremonial blessing by a
Potawatomi Tribe leaders and remarks by officials at 10:15 a.m., the public is invited to enjoy scheduled activities throughout the park until 2 p.m., including live music by Paul Cebar and the Afro-Cuban / Latin Jazz band De La Buena.
Three Bridges Park will be cooperatively owned by the State and City and 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’s completion caps $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 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 a highly visible eyesore along I-94. Then, in the late 1990s, the city and nonprofit Menomonee Valley Partners began to develop and successfully 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.