Chopping Away at the County Grounds

January 23, 2013
Ever since its beginnings in 1995, Milwaukee Riverkeeper has been fighting to protect the Milwaukee County Grounds.  Why?  Because it is the largest remaining open space in Milwaukee County and home of the confluence of the Menomonee River and Underwood Creek.

Sadly, the fight to protect the County Grounds continues 18 years later!  The County Grounds continues to experience a death of a thousand cuts, including loss of habitat associated with construction of flood detention basins (90 acres), a research park, a sporting complex, and soon the Zoo Interchange project (17 acres).

The County Grounds’ biggest challenge now is the 1,192,000 sq. ft. UWM “Innovation Park.”  The proposed area of the County Grounds to be allocated for economic development has expanded significantly over the years by over 40% – assuring that economic development would come into conflict with the preservation of the land’s natural features.


Last Saturday, contractors removed almost all the high quality vegetation on the site, including a large stand of oaks and pines in a ravine that provides vital site drainage, and a stand of 100-200 year old oak trees along Watertown Plank Road – all to make room for the new “Innovation Parkway.” Rather than innovatively winding the parkway around existing oaks and honoring “existing natural resource features and topography” as stated in Master Plans for the site, all trees were removed in the road’s path.  Proposed building footprints are also proposed to be graded flat.

Wauwatosa and UWM could use Innovation Park to truly model innovative, sustainable development techniques, attract engineering jobs, enhance a nationally designated historic building district, and protect adjacent parkland and natural areas.  They could show leadership in creating a development project that reflects the forward thinking of a world class University. Instead, they are paving paradise to put in a parking lot. It remains to be seen whether Innovation Park will live up to the expectations of its name. We truly hope it does.   


"Behold What 'Innovation' Brings!" at the Cognitive Dissonance blog

More County Grounds tree cutting updates at the Urban Wilderness blog.

Read the attached article for a more detailed view of UWM Innovation Park and is threats to the County Grounds


UWM Innovation Park_County Grounds.pdf321.12 KB