June 23, 2017
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 meeting has been postponed. There are on-going discussions regarding possible alternate funding sources for the bridge, therefore, this meeting will be rescheduled in the future to provide an update. Thanks to everyone who provided feedback in anticipation of this meeting. We will keep you posted as we know more.

June 14, 2017

Dear Lake Park Friends Members:


County officials are hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, June 27th regarding their plan to close Ravine Road in Lake Park. Lake Park Friends opposes this plan. We encourage you to attend this meeting and to speak out to save Ravine Road. The meeting is at 6 p.m. on June 27th at the Marcia Coles Community Room (below Lake Park Bistro).

Lake Park Friends’ mission is to promote the preservation and enjoyment of Lake Park in the spirit of its designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. One of the nation’s foremost landscape architects, Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York City, specifically included alternatives to pedestrian paths in his designs so that parks would remain accessible by road, in addition to hiking or walking paths. The idea was to provide alternative ways for all to enjoy the spectacular vistas his parks offer. Ravine Road is a prime example of Olmsted’s vision, and has been there for over 110 years for good reason.

The County has received a $1 million offer from an anonymous donor towards repair of the Ravine Road Bridge, but only on the condition that the County also permanently close Ravine Road to vehicular traffic. Lake Park Friends fully supports the restoration or replacement of the bridge. In fact, we have and will continue to work diligently with the County to that end. But Ravine Road and the bridge are unrelated projects. We do not support the premise that closing Ravine Road to meet a single donor’s wishes is the only way to complete needed repairs of the bridge. It is an alarming precedent that a private citizen could demand dramatic changes to the design and use of this famous historic public park.

There are alternatives for the bridge that could be implemented that save Ravine Road and Olmsted’s design, including alternative funding sources such as grants, federal funding, bonding, other private donations or, perhaps, even working with the present donor to ensure the bridge solution maintains the historic design for vehicular traffic. Please help us send a message to the County that they need to consider other options for the bridge, without conditions that would forever alter the historic significance and purpose of Ravine Road.

Please attend the June 27th meeting and voice your opinion. Ravine Road is as significant as the beautiful roadways that traverse Central Park and deserves to be preserved.

We have included some additional detail, below. If you have any questions, or would like more detailed information about the road or the bridge, please contact us via email at [email protected] or by phone at (414) 962-1680. We encourage you to visit our website at lakeparkfriends.org or follow Lake Park Friends on Facebook. Also, if you would like to speak at the June 27th meeting, we would encourage you to do so. If you would like help developing a message, contact us and we can provide you with one or we will help you develop your own statement.

Thank you for loving and appreciating Milwaukee’s historic landmark park, with all of its amazing design features, and for your membership support.

Colleen Reilly
President, Lake Park Friends Board of Directors

Why is Ravine Road Worth Saving?
1. Olmsted’s park design purposefully includes a “drive” through Lake Park (versus the many other walking “paths”), connecting the lakefront with Lake Park and points west, all the way via Newberry Boulevard to Riverside Park, which Olmsted also designed. The result is a planned system of interconnected green spaces for all social and economic groups to access and enjoy. This design is a signature feature of many famous Olmsted’s park systems across the country, offering a natural retreat in the middle of the city. Even New York’s Central Park has a drive through the middle of the park.

2. Ravine Road has been a “drive” for over 110 years, and Milwaukee County has never before proposed to permanently close it. In fact, one of the announced reasons for restoring the Ravine Road bridge as soon as possible was so that Ravine Road could be re-opened to vehicles. The only reason the County is considering closing Ravine Road is because an anonymous donor wants it closed. The anonymous donor will give $1 million to restore or replace the Ravine Road bridge – but only if Ravine Road is permanently closed to vehicles. While generous, it is an alarming precedent that a private citizen could demand dramatic changes to the design and use of this famous historic park based on nothing more than his or her personal wish. What significant part of Lake Park (or any public space) will be sold next?

3. The cash-strapped County is eager for private money to restore or replace the long-neglected bridge. Ravine Road has been temporarily closed since December 2014 because of concerns that small bits of bridge concrete might fall on the road. In December 2016, the County blocked all access to the road and to the bridge with fences, even though the County acknowledges there is no immediate safety concern and there has been no change in the bridge’s physical condition. While the County states that the reason for blocking all access is for “an abundance of caution,” this action has increased pressure to accept this conditional donation to help fund the bridge. Decisions made this way are not well thought through and almost always go against long-term public good.

Lake Park Friends • P.O. Box 71197 • Milwaukee, WI 53211 • 414.962.1680 • www.lakeparkfriends.org