By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jun 14, 2011 at 9:23 AM

The East Town Association, the group that manages Jazz in the Park, Bastille Days, the East Town Market and other Downtown events, and Juneau Park Friends are collaborating on the development of a proposal to create a Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) that would focus on the renovation and maintenance of both Cathedral Square Park and Juneau Park in Downtown Milwaukee.

The groups brought the proposal before the Milwaukee County Parks today for informational purposes.  If the county endorses the NID concept, the groups would proceed to further develop the design and lease, with the input of the community, and bring the concept back to the county for approval in the next 30-60 days.  

An NID creates an operating plan, which describes the development, redevelopment, maintenance, operation and promotion of the district.  The operating plan also describes all assessments that will be collected and all expected expenses.  The operating plan must be approved initially and then annually by the City of Milwaukee’s Common Council.  

Juneau Park is approximately 14 acres on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.  It is situated east of Prospect Avenue between Juneau Avenue on the north and Mason Street on the south.  

Cathedral Square Park consists of 2.3 acres of lawn, mature trees, walkways, lighting and a plaza with a defunct fountain and surrounding plantings.  It is located in the heart of Downtown between Kilbourn Avenue and Wells, Jackson and Jefferson Streets.

The park is home Jazz in the Park, Bastille Days, the East Town Markets and one of Downtown's only play gym areas and swing sets.

The proposed NID would secure financing to complete capital projects in the two parks.  Moving forward, the NID would receive an annual assessment from property owners in the proposed NID boundaries.

These assessments would allow for debt service to cover the initial capital expenditures as well as ongoing maintenance. As part of this process, the NID would request a lease of the two parks from the Milwaukee County Parks System.  

Designs are not yet final, however preliminary drawings are being developed. Enhancements specific to Cathedral Square Park include a small structure to serve as a stage with restrooms and storage. This would eliminate the need for seasonal rental trailers and would decrease the number of temporary restrooms that would be necessary.

Enhancements specific to Juneau Park include bluff restoration and new stairways as well as beautification of the park’s upper surface.  

Three informational meetings are scheduled at this time. These meetings will allow interested parties to understand what a NID means and how it will affect the neighborhood.  Preliminary discussions will be held on the design of the parks at the Miller Room at O’Donnell Park, June 28, 10 a.m.-noon; Madison Medical Affiliates 788 N. Jefferson St., June 29, 5-6 p.m.; and East Town Open House 770 N. Jefferson St., second floor, July 6, 1-5 p.m.

In addition, there will be subsequent meetings once the designs are further developed and talks have proceeded with the County.  

The goal is to move toward the creation of the NID by the end of this calendar year and have the renovations of the two parks completed by spring 2012.