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Hartung Park homes looking less likely

But creation of two sledding hills there is a possibility

June 22, 2011

The likelihood that homes will be built at Hartung Park is dwindling, but planners are looking to turn the landfill there into sledding hills during the next phase of development.

Plans for Hartung Park, a city of Milwaukee park that extends into Wauwatosa, call for 10 single-family homes to be built along the eastern and southern edges of the site. The former quarry, still occupied in part by a drop site for Milwaukee's clean fill, "doesn't have as much unquarried land as initially thought," said Lynne Woerhle, a Wauwatosa resident who serves as president of the Hartung Park Community Association.

Site conditions may be poor

Building homes on the former quarry site requires state Department of Natural Resources approval, and Milwaukee officials aren't confident they will meet the standards, said Ghassan Korban, interim Milwaukee Public Works commissioner. Environmental testing will determine whether chemicals such as methane are located in the soil.

"The findings at this point are discouraging," he said.

The idea had been to use the sale of residential properties to pay for continued development of the park. Instead, Milwaukee Public Works has requested money as part of its 2012 budget for that purpose. The city of Wauwatosa kicks in $10,000 annually for park maintenance.

Milwaukee will continue to dump in a fenced-off portion of the site for another year, because staff want to dispose of more dirt. Without this dump site, the city would have to pay a fee to use a private landfill.

More development to come

The landfill is nearing capacity and one huge hill has formed, so now Korban is looking at creating a second hill. He hopes to landscape the site into two sledding hills - a larger one for adults and older children and a bunny hill for the younger or less adventurous sledders - by the end of 2012.

Korban has heard some objections from neighbors who are concerned about the tall hill imposing on their homes. He said his staff is "sensitive" to these issues, and they will be addressing them.

The park features a playground on the third of the property that falls in Wauwatosa. The majority of the equipment was installed in fall 2009, but the association hadn't raised enough money for all the pieces. This summer, a spinner or riding piece for the toddler/preschool set will be added to the mix, Woerhle said.

Emery's is donating a bicycle rack, the association hopes to add bluebird boxes and a local Boy Scout will be building a welcome kiosk this summer.

Money remaining from a We Energies grant for educational signage on the Silurian Reef that covered the area millions of years ago will go toward creating signs for the labyrinth that was installed late last year. Milwaukee needed to construct a stormwater detention pond in the park to serve the surrounding neighborhood, so officials agreed to install a labyrinth as requested by the association.

People walk the winding pathway of the labyrinth for relaxation and reflection and to commune with nature.

Park already popular

The surrounding neighborhood has made good use of the park in the past year with cross country skiers traversing the hilly terrain and skaters taking to the detention pond when it froze over last winter. During the spring and summer, people are walking the paths from sun up to sun down, Woerhle said.

Last summer, Wednesday nights proved popular times to gather at Hartung due to a couple of farmers selling produce and flowers there. This year, the market grows to five farmers, including one that will sell fresh eggs, starting July 6.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: Five farmers will sell vegetables, flowers and eggs

WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays starting July 6

WHERE: Hartung Park, 3342 N. Argonne Drive

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