The the County Board of Supervisors voted, 14-4, on Thursday to change the name of the road through Washington Park to Olmsted Way.
The resolution was proposed by by Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson and Supervisor Peter Burgelis as a means for honoring pioneering landscape architect, journalist, preservation activist and Civil War General Secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission Frederick Law Olmsted.
Olmsted designed Washington Park – originally called West Park – as well as Lake Park, Riverside Park and Newberry Boulevard.
The resolution also includes $14,000 funding for bike lines, crosswalk striping and signage and a center line in the road to help calm traffic through the serpentine section of Washington Boulevard that bisects the park.
Many cities are celebrating Olmsted 200 this year to mark the bicentennial of his birth. The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum is celebrating with its “In the Park with Olmsted: A Vision for Milwaukee” exhibit, which runs through Sept. 25.
(As an aside, that exhibit also has a great catalog that you can purchase at Villa Terrace. It includes the aerial photograph seen at the top, by artist Wes Tank.)
“Frederick Law Olmsted’s impact on Milwaukee deserves to be celebrated,” said Nicholson in a statement released after the vote. “From Lake and Riverside parks on the east side to one of my personal favorites, Washington Park, Olmsted has shaped how people have enjoyed public spaces in Milwaukee for more than 130 years and will continue to shape how we enjoy it for the next 100. I look forward to seeing his contributions celebrated through this parkway to ensure we remember this history.”
Olmsted's vast legacy includes designing New York's Central and Prospect Parks, helping to preserve Niagara Falls and Yosemite, designing the mall in Washington, D.C., landscaping the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and designing Boston's so-called Emerald Necklace of parks. But his stamp has been put on cities across the country, from Buffalo to Louisville and beyond.
Red Arrow Park rollerskating update
County Executive David Crowley vetoed legislation proposed by Nicholson that would have earmarked $175,000 to kickstart summer roller skating at Red Arrow Park Downtown.
A recent County Parks report noted that roller skating could be accommodated on the Red Arrow Park ice rink if a protective barrier was laid atop the concrete surface.
However, the County Board sustained Crowley's veto, 9-8, on Thursday.
“Roller skating at Red Arrow Park would provide a low-cost, family-friendly activity Downtown that pushes us toward our vision of achieving racial and health equity, while raising much needed revenue down the line," Nicholson said after the board meeting.
"It also has broad support across Milwaukee County. While I am disappointed that my resolution to provide immediate funding for this program was vetoed, I am heartened by the community's engagement on this issue and plan to continue doing everything in my power to make roller skating in Red Arrow Park a reality."
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.