The future of the County Grounds will be discussed at a public meeting Tuesday, Feb. 7.
The city of Wauwatosa is in the process of conducting a study on the land that has been labeled the Life Sciences District Master Plan. The first version of the study was revealed at a common council meeting Jan. 17 that saw hundreds of citizens show up to make their voices heard.
Members of the public will have a chance to express their thoughts regarding the study at an open house that will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at city hall, 7725 W. North Ave. A preview of the current draft of the concept can be seen on wauwatosa.net.
A group has been formed called Tosa for Good that intends to ensure that the people of the community have a say in each step of the development process.
"We are all about responsible economic development," group spokesperson Jonathan Gundlach said in a statement. "Our goal is to preserve as much green space as possible and keeping those intangibles that make Wauwatosa such a special place to live."
Gundlach said that his group believes that as people hear the truth about what is being proposed they are becoming increasingly concerned.
"Currently, citizens of Wauwatosa are being excluded from the real decision-making," Gundlach said. "We want a seat at the table when the real decisions are being made. The city's planning team says that they have been "focused heavily on engaging the public. That's simply not true. We have talked to dozens of residents and no one knew about this plan before this month."
Consultants will present a draft of the plan at the open house and then will take questions and accept feedback. According to the released plan the city and consultants are "taking into consideration the need to balance environmental, economic development and social equity."
The study was conducted by Graef, a full service engineering, planning, and design firm that has a Milwaukee office. In the introduction to the results of their study they say that exponential growth over the last 20 years on the grounds has created opportunities for growth, but also has produced challenges.
"I don't know anyone who is opposed to preserving land on the grounds," Alderman Dennis McBride said. "The plan calls for preservation. Where the lines get drawn will be discussed."
The land is owned by Milwaukee County and has signed leases with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center for some parcels of the property. Despite not owning or renting any of the property on the County Grounds, the area is zoned by the city of Wauwatosa.
It is the parcels that are not currently rented to other entities that are under consideration for being designated for development or parkland and it is those areas that have made some citizens uncomfortable with the direction by the city.
Currently the Underwood Creek Parkway area, Wil-O-Way, Gravel Shores, County Grounds, Wisconsin Avenue, Hoyt and Hansen parks also reside in the area under study and those parks will remain in place.
Other entities that will remain in place include the Wisconsin Lutheran College Athletic Fields, The UWM Innovation Campus and the Wisconsin DNR forest.
The remaining parts of the grounds are the main focus of the discussion and those include two wooded areas that have become the focal point of citizens' concerns. The city is trying to balance economic development with land preservation and the citizens are watching.