Release Date: Tuesday, August 2nd 2011

East Town Association & Juneau Park Friends propose collaboration for Downtown parks improvements

East Town Association and Juneau Park Friends are collaborating on a proposal to create a Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) that would focus on the renovation and maintenance of both Cathedral Square Park and Juneau Park.  This proposed NID would secure financing to complete extensive capital projects in the two parks. Moving forward, the NID would receive an annual assessment from property owners in the proposed NID boundaries. Those assessments would allow for debt service to cover the initial capital expenditures as well as ongoing maintenance. As part of this process, the NID would request a Cooperative Access and Maintenance Agreement from the Milwaukee County Parks System with regards to the two parks.

Juneau Park is approximately 14 acres of parkland located along the lakefront on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. It is situated east of Prospect Avenue between Juneau Avenue on the north and Mason Street on the south. The Park consists of large expanses of lawn with many mature trees, asphalt walks and partially wooded bluffs. Within the park there is a statue of Leif Erickson, a statue of Solomon Juneau, a replica log cabin, a small restroom building, some benches and pathway lighting. This park serves as a place to walk, relax and enjoy the spectacular lakefront vistas and fireworks displays.

Plans would include both improved access down to Lincoln Memorial Drive as well as beautification of the upper park.  The bluff repairs would also be conducted along with this project utilizing FEMA funds that Milwaukee County has already secured.  A stairway down the bluff, additional accessibility ramps and improved view corridors are all part of the plan.

Cathedral Square Park lies four blocks west of Juneau Park and consists of 2.3 acres of lawn, mature trees, walkways, lighting and a plaza with a defunct fountain and surrounding plantings. It is located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee between Kilbourn Avenue and Wells, Jackson and Jefferson Streets. Cathedral Square Park is home to many popular public events such as Jazz in the Park, Bastille Days, and the East Town Markets.

The plan for Cathedral Square Park includes removal of the fountain, relocating the stage to the North end of the park, creating a permanent pavilion that would house storage, restroom facilities and a green room for entertainers, and adding a grove of trees to the North end of the park which would include a play area. 


What is a NID?
Wisconsin State Statute 66.1110 details the legislation for Neighborhood Improvement Districts (NID). A NID creates an operating plan, which describes the development, redevelopment, maintenance, operation, and promotion of the district. The operating plan also describes all assessments that will be collected and all expenses that are expected. The operating plan must be approved initially and then annually by the City of Milwaukee’s common council. In addition, all affected property owners must be informed in writing on at least two separate occasions prior to any public hearings.

What are the proposed boundaries of the NID?
From Broadway on the west to Ogden Avenue on the north to Lake Michigan on the east and Clybourn Avenue on the south.

What will be the benefits of this project?
As funding is always an issue, this body will secure the necessary dollars to specifically improve these two downtown landmark parks. With completely renovated and well-maintained parks, downtown residential and commercial property values will increase.

Will this decrease public access to the parks?
Actually this proposal will increase public access to the parks. All dollars collected will go directly into these two parks. A major component of this project is to complete extensive repairs and stabilization to the bluff on the edge of Juneau Park. In addition to the stabilization, the plans include additional stairways and ramps to increase the accessibility to the lakefront from the park and open the view of the lake from the adjacent properties.

How public is this process?
A NID must create an operating plan that clearly describes the budget and the intended use of every dollar that will be secured. This operating plan must be presented to the public and approved on an annual basis. The entire process is transparent and inclusive of all stakeholders. In addition, because of the connection to Milwaukee County Parks, this proposed NID would require annual approval from Milwaukee County as well. 

What does this mean for my taxes?
All residential and commercial property owners will be included in the assessed district if this proposal moves forward.  The assessment will likely be modest for the outcome that will be seen. For example, an owner with a property valued at $200,000 will see an annual assessment of between around $50. In exchange for that, over $3 million will be raised for the redevelopment of these two downtown parks.

Why are the two groups working together?
These two parks have many of the same constituents, the neighborhood as a whole benefits from both of these spaces, the goals of the two groups are aligned and therefore it makes sense to proceed together. Due to general economies of scale, the return on investment will be greater with the two groups working together and therefore more will be accomplished.

Informational meetings have been held on the following dates:

Miller Room at O’Donnell Park - June 28 - 10am-noon
Madison Medical Affiliates 788 N. Jefferson Street - June 29 - 5pm-6pm
East Town Open House 770 N. Jefferson Street 2nd Floor - July 6 - 1-5pm
Miller Room at O'Donnell Park- August 1- 6:30pm-7:30pm
825 N. Jefferson Street, 1st Floor Conference Room- August 2- 4pm-6pm


The East Town Association was officially incorporated in 1983, although it began in the early 1960’s.

The first Bastille Days took place July 17 & 18 in 1982 and we celebrate the 30th anniversary in 2011. 

East Town Market celebrates 15 years in 2011 and over 80 vendors participate annually.

Jazz in the Park started in 1991, 21 years later we have over 8,000 weekly attendees.

The Storm the Bastille started in 1985.  Today, over 5000 runners and walkers participate.

November through May, check out the East Town Market at Discovery World on the 2nd Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. 

The first Bastille Days was located on Jefferson Street directly in front of George Watts & Son, today Bastille Days has four stages and occupies eight city blocks.

Beginning in 2009, we no longer allow guests to carry in their own alcoholic beverages to any of our events, including Jazz in the Park. Support these free events and buy a glass of wine!

Over 200 businesses and 100 individuals are members of the East Town Association, see why!

Did you know you can get your knives sharpened at the East Town Market?

EAST TOWN ASSOCIATION 825 N Jefferson St Milwaukee, WI 53202 414.271.1416 email:
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