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Milwaukee's Harbor District Building Its First Park

Harbor District, IInc.
Harbor View Plaza at the end of Greenfield Avenue will feature a climbing tower, canoe & kayak launch and a water play area.

You might know about a small park within Milwaukee's harbor on Jones Island called KaszubeHarbor View Plaza will become the first greenspace since the inception of Harbor District, Inc. Construction is expected to begin this fall.

The public park will be located at the end of Greenfield Avenue. This area just south of the Milwaukee's Third Ward has felt forbidding for years.

Dan Adams, planning director for the Harbor District, says the new park is another step in the harbor district's transformation.

As Harbor View Plaza takes shape it will trees, plants, seating and a water play area for children. It will also feature a play structure designed to look like a shipping container.

“At the water’s edge, when you get all the way down here, is gonna be the first canoe, kayak launch in the area,” he says. 

Adams says it will have a great view of Milwaukee's port, too.

Credit Susan Bence
A view of the site where Harbor View Park will be built.

For three years a group of local leaders have been talking up and reimagining the Harbor District. Public, private and community organizations created Harbor District, Inc. to help develop a 20-year revitalization plan for the area.

UW-Milwaukee's multi-million-dollar expansion of its School of Freshwater Sciences at the eastern edge of Greenfield Avenue was the first visible symbol of rebirth in the area. Then a coal pile used to fuel the power plant upstream in the Menomonee Valley disappeared when the plant switched to natural gas. 

As for what's next, Adams says the Harbor District Water and Land Use Plan aims to create a public waterfront.

“This park we’re talking about here is kind of the first toe in the water, if you will, for public access down here,” he says. “We’re hoping it leads to many more public improvements in the future going down to the waterfront here, eventually part of a larger riverwalk system.”

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Susan is WUWM's environmental reporter.<br/>
Lauren Sigfusson
Lauren became WUWM's digital producer in July 2018.