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Focus shifts from Abendschein

Lakefront, Drexel Town Square park sites may get splash pad, pavilion instead

Justin Wiedower lands his BMX bike on one of the quarter-pipe decks at the Oak Creek Skate Park on the east side of Abendschein Park this summer. Amenities once planned for the park may instead be built elsewhere.

Justin Wiedower lands his BMX bike on one of the quarter-pipe decks at the Oak Creek Skate Park on the east side of Abendschein Park this summer. Amenities once planned for the park may instead be built elsewhere. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Nov. 20, 2012

Oak Creek - Abendschein Park, with its new trails and buildings, won't see any more construction until the city's plans for the lakefront and Drexel Town Square developments are fleshed out.

Earlier this year, the second phase of an eight-phase plan for Abendschein was completed, bringing new trails, a larger parking lot, a retention pond and a permanent restroom and concession stand to the park. But plans for a future splash pad, open-air pavilion, hardball diamond and more are now on hold.

The project, conceived in 2000 and updated in 2008, was drawn up before the city began steps to convert abandoned and contaminated lakefront properties into a mix of retail, residential and public uses. Drexel Town Square, formerly the home of Delphi and now the future site of City Hall and other city buildings, also will offer quite a bit of public land. The two areas together will offer more than 100 acres of park space.

With the new park space in mind, the city must rethink what amenities it wants to put into Abendschein Park.

"When we have a better vision and action plan for the lakefront, it will help dictate the future development of the phases of Abendschein park," Pete Wagner, zoning administer and planner, said. "At this point there is no date to revisit it. To do a lot of speculation at this point, with the lakefront not fleshed out, is an exercise in futility."

On hold, not forgotten

Although there are no plans to update Abendschein Park in the pipeline, the park is not being forgotten. City officials said they still want to revisit it and add more trails in the future to create more connectivity and access to the 75-acre park at 1311 E. Drexel Ave.

The amenities proposed in the park's eight-phase plan are still planned to be implemented. The only difference now is that the city doesn't know if they want to put them in Abendschein, the new lakefront parks or Drexel Town Square.

Wagner said Abendschein has a unique pull for residents in its skate park and disc golf course. The course, closed so new grass seed has time to take root, will open Jan. 1, when the Park Department believes the ground will be frozen enough for use. The course could close again in the spring when the ground thaws.

Other obstacles

The city must use its limited park funding to attend to the needs of the new parks. Phase two of Abendschein's rework cost about $1 million, of which the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources granted $250,000 to the city. The rest was paid for with impact fees.

The projected cost of the next six phases combined was estimated at more than $3 million.

After all is said and done with the two new parks, Abendschein may not see an update in the next five to 10 years, officials said.

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