By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 30, 2018 at 1:04 PM

Begun last summer, the 69th Street Pedestrian Plaza on 69th and North in East Tosa continues to take shape.

Formerly an unpleasant and hard-to-navigate parking lot adjacent to Rocket Baby Bakery, the new area creates a gathering spot with seating, landscaping, stormwater management and, yes, parking.

The park is being created in two phases, according to Ald. Bobby Pantuso, in whose district the plaza is located.

"We ordered the fixtures over 2 years to spread the cost," he says.

Here’s a video overview by City of Wauwatosa civil engineer Jennifer Stilling:

Six parking spots were added at the alley that runs along the north edge of the lot, as well as seven more in a new lot directly across 69th Street. The spots in both areas are now much easier to access. The lots adjacent to the plaza are screened by a wood slat fence.

Those spots were ready for use by autumn and around the same time serpentine concrete benches were in place. Recently, picnic tables and oversized benches with wood-slat seats and backs were added, along with a water fountain and water bottle station with filtered water.

The plaza has a permeable pavement and a small bioswale near the parking spaces to help ease stormwater runoff into storm sewers.

(PHOTO: City of Wauwatosa)

There’s still some work to be done – expected to be completed in spring – including a canopy over the picnic tables with string lights, a bike fix-it station and bike rack.

When it's done it'll be a great place to hang out while you nosh on a donut from Cranky Al's across the street or a kouign amann from Rocket Baby, right next door.

"It makes better use of public space by pushing public gathering space to the street where the activity is and shifting the parking to the rear," Pantuso says.

"Interestingly, we were able to keep the same amount of parking but make better use of a public asset. Placemaking is one of the most important aspects of contemporary urban design."

You can stay updated by watching this space.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.