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Falls proposes changes for Village Park, Old Falls Village


By Thomas J. McKillen
Managing Editor

The eventual expansion of Menomonee Falls Village Park to Appleton Avenue is among the changes proposed to the village of Menomonee Falls Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation (COR) Plan.

Tyler Zwagerman, village of Menomonee Falls Planning Technician, summarized the changes that are recommended to Village Park and Old Falls Village during a presentation at the March 5 Village Board meeting.

The COR Plan serves as a guide to recreation management and development of village parks, trails and other outdoor public spaces, and consider the appropriate level of service standards for park lands and recreation facilities. The plan also identifies and recommends park improvement. The most recent COR Plan was approved by the Village Board in November 2016.

Zwagerman said the proposed changes were reviewed and recommended for approval by the Park Board on Feb. 20. A public hearing will be held before the Village Board in April to consider the proposed changes to the COR Plan, after which the board will take final action on the revised plan.

Zwagerman cited “robust development” in the village that included hundreds of new residential units, with has generated funding through park impact fees charged on apartments and single family homes. With in the increased residential units, Zwagerman said there is an increased demand for community events.

“People are craving these community gathering type events where people can get together to know one another, enjoy food and drink together and really form a community,” Zwagerman said.

In response, Zwagerman said village staff examined  park uses, with an emphasis on Village Park and Old Falls Village.

“These parks are very important as they are, but we also know there was opportunity for them to serve the community more broadly as a destination,” Zwagerman said.

Proposed Village Park changes
Village Park is located on the south side of Garfield Drive in Menomonee Falls, across from North Middle School. Zwagerman noted that the Village Park Master Plan that was incorporated into the current COR Plan includes a performance space where a softball diamond currently exists, a splashpad near that area, and a stormwater retention feature at the west end of the park. He said those items are retained in the proposed update to the park.

The update for Village Park includes extending the park to Appleton Avenue to open it up to the downtown area.

“It’s been tucked behind from the vision of Appleton Avenue — not everybody sees it when they drive past or visit downtown and that’s something we want to address in that revision,” Zwagerman said.

The new proposal will include acquiring five parcels along Appleton Avenue to create a “special purpose park area” to serve the entire community, Zwagerman said. The space along Appleton Avenue would include covered pavilion space for a farmers market while one home at the site would be proposed to be used as the VIllage Centre Business Improvement district offices.

The splash plan and play area that is in the current COR plan is proposed to be near the existing restrooms.

Separate from the COR Plan, Garfield Drive is being reconstructed this summer. As part of that reconstruction, parallel parking will be replaced with angled parking, which will add approximately 70 parking spaces to the area.

Toward the end of his comments on the Village Park proposed changes, Zwagerman said “we do believe there are a lot of opportunities within this kind of vision to create partnerships for funding for a lot of pieces within here.”

Proposed changes to Old Falls Village
Old Falls Village is located at the southwest corner of Pilgrim and County Line roads, and has several historical buildings at the site. Zwagerman said there is currently not enough parking space for events at Old Falls Village.  Parking is proposed to be added in the short-term at the west side of the site where parking currently exists, with additional parking proposed in the long-term along Pilgrim Road.

An east-west trail through Old Falls Village from the west parking space to the parking area east of the barn is proposed to improve pedestrian circulation through the space.

“Right now people enter the park and they wander in where the barn is from the parking lot and the Publick House and you see a scattering of buildings as you come in — there doesn’t seem to be a lot of order to it,” Zwagerman said.

He said the plans call for creating a path system that creates and east-west and north-south flow. Signs and historic lighting changes are also proposed to the site to improve the visibility of the site.

“It’s conveniently located on two major arterlals on the north end of the community with tens of thousands of vehicles driving by it daily, but not everybody know what it is and what it’s about, so one thing that was talked about is making sure when people drive past the park there is something special,” Zwagerman said.

Zwagerman said the “near-term vision” for Old Falls Village includes a performance stage behind the railroad depot  and potentially a picnic food and beverage area. He added that a beer garden is being considered for the space for this summer.  He said the “big picture standpoint” long term vision includes a village component that could include a visitor’s center that would be modeled after a sugar beet factory that operated in the village along with a “village area” that could include a blacksmith shop .

Zwagerman then described the purpose of the visitor’s center proposed in the long-term vision.

“Old Falls Village and the historical society are really looking at ways to program this toward more sustainable revenue streams and for attracting new people who have never been there before,” Zwagerman said. “With the visitor’s center concept and a lot of the things you’ve seen here, it’s about creating spaces for new activities, new programming and new opportunities to bring people in.”

He added that a cafe or space for events such as wedding or other special events is being considered for the visitor’s center or existing sites. He said the barn at the site is being considered for use for special events. He said the performance stage and beer garden proposal are moving ahead this year while the new paths and lighting are in the revised COR Plan. Long term plans include the visitor’s center and a “main street” proposal further inside the park area.

Changes are Mill Park Pond and Plaza
The village has acquired land the northwest end of Mill Pond Park. Zwagerman said the village is proposing to add parking at the site along with picnic tables and kiosk.

Menomonee Falls Planning Technician Tyler Zwagerman summarizes changes to the village outdoor Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan during a presentation at the March 5 Village Board meeting.

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