Saturday, February 19, 2022
The Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association (WPRA) has selected Milwaukee Recreation’s "Dream, Build, Play" Playfield Renovation project as the winner of the 2021 Park Design Award (project category – Over $1,000,000).
Milwaukee Recreation operates 52 playfields across the city of Milwaukee. The majority of these playfields were constructed between 1920 and 1960. With no major upgrades during the last 50-80 years, time and use have taken their toll on the facilities. In 2014, Milwaukee Recreation retained a consultant to conduct a review of its outdoor recreation facilities and provide a roadmap for improvements spanning a ten-year timeframe.
Milwaukee Recreation and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) are committed to the equitable allocation of district resources, support, and opportunities. In lieu of merely addressing improvements based on physical condition, Milwaukee Recreation established an innovative and data-driven approach to ensure an equitable approach to the planned improvements. This methodology, deemed the “Equity Prioritization Model,” was based in research about systemically disinvested communities and racial and economic inequity. Ultimately, the Equity Prioritization Model provided Milwaukee Recreation with a framework to guide investment in recreation facilities and ensured a level playing field for all users. As a result of this work, three playfields were identified for updates and renovations with completion in 2020; Clovernook Playfield, Franklin Square Playfield, and Southgate Playfield.
With the Equity Prioritization Model establishing priorities for the renovations, the “Dream, Build, Play” initiative established the phases for each project. The “Dream” phase consists of a series of robust community engagement sessions to connect with community stakeholders and create ownership and inclusion in the design process. The “Build” phase includes development of construction drawings, bidding, and the actual construction process. Finally, the “Play” phase includes ribbon cuttings (upon project completion) and ongoing community engagement.
Each playfield completed in 2020 had its own individual set of improvements based on community feedback and needs. Clovernook Playfield now features age-appropriate playground equipment, a splash pad, shade structures, and a multi-purpose field. Franklin Square Playfield received an upgraded basketball court, accessible playground equipment, a splash pad, multi-purpose field, and an obstacle course. Finally, the Southgate Playfield renovation included the removal of asphalt and installation of turf playfield, shade trees, a walking loop, playground equipment, splash play area, and upgraded site amenities.
These onetime tired and overused playfields have been transformed into dynamic, multi-functional, and intergenerational destinations that encourage community pride and give families a place to gather, learn, and recreate. On a broader scale, the renovations also addressed issues of social equity, public health, and community vibrancy. The redesigned playfields provide opportunities for play, public gathering, and free summer playground programming while featuring a greener, shadier, and more inviting destination for all members of the community.
To date, Milwaukee Recreation has renovated and re-opened five playfields: Columbia Playfield, Custer Playfield, Southgate Playfield, Clovernook Playfield, and Franklin Square Playfield. Ohio Playfield has also received a new tot lot as part of smaller renovation project. Click here to see all highlight videos and more information on completed projects. Milwaukee Recreation continued work across its playfield network in 2021 with extensive community engagement sessions at Carmen Playfield, Emigh Playfield, Lincoln Playfield, Modrzejewski Playfield, and Stark Playfield.
See more photos of the completed sites below.