Since 2007, when the late John C. Walker connected Center for Resilient Cities (CRC) to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee (RCM), the two organizations have successfully partnered to bring a series of award-winning revitalized public green spaces to residents of Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights, through the Johnsons Park Initiative. A project of CRC, the Initiative was named as one of 13 catalytic capital projects during the 2008 Lindsay Heights quality-of-life planning process. Early visioning and planning with community stakeholders had resulted in the Initiative’s design to improve the quantity and quality of green spaces in the neighborhood. The result was a 3-phase, 19-acre Initiative encompassing Alice’s Garden, the Brown Street Academy Schoolyard greening, and, the final phase, the renovation of Johnsons Park.
We are pleased to say that Johnsons Park is nearing completion! The park now invites all Lindsay Heights residents to use and enjoy multiple spaces for active living. New pathways allow easy access to park features including a performance stage and sports practice fields for football, soccer and T-ball. A bioswale (infiltration basin) mitigates storm water runoff and protects water quality in the Milwaukee River watershed. New pedestrian-height, energy-efficient LED fixtures light the park’s pathways, playgrounds, and other areas. The new picnic shelter and restroom facilities, constructed by Milwaukee County Parks, welcome family activities and community gatherings.
What made the final phase of the Johnsons Park Initiative possible? In late 2013, the Rotary Club of Milwaukee committed to join Center for Resilient Cities in the fundraising needed to complete the Initiative’s largest phase. The RCM Johnsons Park Task Force, originally chaired by Past President Rick White and Executive Director Mary McCormick, was established in early 2014. When Rick retired to North Carolina, Past President Joe Caruso stepped in to carry the capital campaign over the finish line. By the end of 2014, over $1 million of the $1.23 million campaign had been raised from a notable roster of private foundations, public entities, and private individuals. When Milwaukee County’s investment of $878,000 in public funds is added in, Johnsons Park’s renovation has resulted in nearly $2 million of capital improvements.
And now it is time to celebrate! Please mark your calendars for Thursday, June 23rd at 5:30 pm, when we will gather with neighbors, community organizations, donors and volunteers to celebrate the new look and feel of the park. Program highlights include the participation of 10 neighborhood groups, remarks by local officials, and dedication of the performance stage in John C. Walker’s memory. Feeding American has generously committed to donate food, which will be prepared by Rebel Catering (Running Rebels). Immediately following, Milwaukee County Parks will host a concert featuring Tony TNT Washington and his Explosive Divas from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. The A.W.E. (Artists Working in Education) Truck Studio will also on site from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. It is surely an event you and your family will not want to miss!