August 19 2013
For the last 10 years, Menomonee Valley Partners have brought together non-profits, city government and area businesses to revitalize an area of Milwaukee affected by the decline in the city's industry. Old businesses expanded, new business put down roots and the Hank Aaron State Trail expanded through the valley. This once abandoned part of the city has turned into a nationally recognized model for economic redevelopment and environmental sustainability.
Three Bridges Park is the latest project completed in the Menomonee Valley. What was once flat, abandoned railroad storage and old tracks is now a vibrant park. The rolling hills in the 24-acre stretch of land were created using unlikely materials. "It's actually fill from the Marquette Interchange," says Laura Bray, Executive Director of the Menomonee Valley Partners. "It was a creative way to place fill here instead of taking it to a landfill." The project is a work in progress. Native plants are taking root. There's an area set aside for community gardens. They even made improvements to the Menomonee River to improve water quality and habitat for native fish and the fly fishermen and anglers that enjoy the river.
The Urban Ecology Center in the Menomonee Valley had big input when planning the new park. "This whole natural area has been disconnected from the neighborhood just south of us for over a generation," says Glenna Holstein, Branch Manager for the Menomonee Valley UEC. "This is the first time some folks have had a green space in their neighborhood." The new space is attracting a lot of animals too. "I think we spotted 28 different bird species," she says. "My personal favorite is the green heron, with is a little smaller than the great blues. We actually found a nesting pair so we got to see little baby herons."
Three Bridges Park is open to the public for walking, running or biking on the trails. For a list of classes for adults and children, including moonlight bird walks, check the UEC website here.