St. Ann Center: Soil cleanup brings jobs, art venue to north side
The hum of excavators moving 9,000 tons of dirt will soon be replaced by the sound of music and applause on Milwaukee’s near north side. A major soil cleanup is underway at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care-Bucyrus Campus, preparing the property for construction of a brand-new community band shell.
To announce the improvement project, St. Ann Center will host the Good Earth Celebration on Friday, Aug. 11, 10 a.m.-noon at the Bucyrus Campus, 2450 W. North Ave. The public is invited to the event which will feature entertainment, refreshments and a blessing of the ground.
Jon Peterson, project manager with the U.S. EPA, will explain the positive environmental impact on the north side neighborhood. Dave Misky, assistant executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, will discuss how the project benefits the local job market and economy.
Misky says more than 8,000 jobs have been created or retained in the City of Milwaukee over the past 15 years, thanks to the cleanup of brownfields—property that has been underutilized or left vacant, often due to pollutants.
Friday’s event will also feature performances by local entertainers and children from St. Ann Center’s day care program—a preview of the type of programming planned for the Indaba Community Band Shell, scheduled to be completed by the outdoor concert season in spring of 2018.
After the 9,000 tons of dirt are trucked to a landfill, about 6,000 tons of remaining soil will be capped with clean soil and graded to form a contoured hill that will become an audience area for the band shell. Accommodating 350 spectators, it will include a large wheelchair-accessible seating area. The back of the hill will form a children’s sliding area. The band shell was designed by Zimmerman Architectural Studios to avoid neighborhood noise pollution–its canopy and two wings, which accommodate accessible bathrooms, a green room and storage area, will contain the sound to the Bucyrus Campus. A lighted walkway to the band shell will provide a safe, tree-lined environment for concertgoers and neighborhood residents.
St. Ann Center, an intergenerational day care for children, the elderly and adults with disabilities, purchased the 7.5-acre parcel in 2014 for $1 from the City of Milwaukee. Between 1951 and 1969, many buildings on the property were demolished to prepare for construction of the Park West Freeway. After the freeway project was canceled, the remaining buildings were demolished, leaving the vacant land a neighborhood concern.
The cost of the cleanup project will be offset by $147,000 in grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and $400,000 in U.S. EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grants. St. Ann Center is working with Parklawn Assembly of God Church to raise money for the operation of the band shell. Those interested in contributing to the band shell can donate at: stanncenter.org/bandshell.