A neglected lot once adjacent to the Fondy Farmers Market on the corner of Fond du Lac and Meinecke in Lindsay Heights is no more. Last year, a community effort led by Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO)’s HOME GR/OWN, transformed the parcel into Fondy Park, a beautiful, multi-use green space. For their efforts, the group received the 2018 LISC MANDI Award for Best Public Space at a ceremony on March 15. Honorees received a trophy and a $1,000 contribution.
The 3/5 acre park offers locals a wide swath of grass for lounging, a stage for concerts and other events, seating, chess tables, gardening, and eco-education classes. Developers also engineered a storm water management system, also called a bioswale, that absorbs 88,000 gallons of rainwater in a 24-hour period to mitigate street flooding and prevent runoff from polluting Lake Michigan.
“We really like to do projects that have multiple benefits,” Tim McCollow, project manager of HOME GR/OWN, told reporter Margaret Cannon of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.
Seed money to develop the park was actually made possible thanks to funding from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Fund for Lake Michigan, who both saw an opportunity to create a storm water retention park. Once the capital became available, other organizations layered on more financial support.
HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee is an initiative put forth by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to provide better access to local, healthy food and transform blighted lots into green space in targeted neighborhoods. This is ECO HOME GR/OWN’s second MANDI Awards for Public Space. In 2015, the group was recognized for the Ezekiel Gillespie Park project.