The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is partnering with Milwaukee County Parks and others to make improvements along the Kinnickinnic River and within Jackson Park. The 140-year-old Jackson Park is a regional park on Milwaukee’s south side, located on the Kinnickinnic River Parkway. The lagoon, natural wooded areas, picnic sites, play fields, summer farmers’ market and other recreational amenities make this park a popular destination for the neighboring communities. The Kinnickinnic River flows through the park but resembles more of a drainage ditch than a natural stream as a significant portion of the river is lined in with concrete or enclosed in culverts. The Kinnickinnic River at Jackson Park project is part of the larger 2017 Kinnickinnic River Watershed Flood Management Plan. The goals of this plan include:
- Flood risk reduction to over 660 residential & commercial structures;
- Improved public safety;
- Improved riparian & aquatic habitats;
- Enhanced stream aesthetics; and
- Robust community collaboration.
Jackson Park was identified in the planning study as the most ideal location for holding water due to its topography and location within the watershed. To allow for more storage of floodwaters during heavy storms and to naturalize the river, lowering of park areas is required and 2,100 feet of concrete channel lining and enclosed culverts will be removed and replaced with a natural stream design. Because of this, elements of Jackson Park will have the opportunity to be re-envisioned to better support recreation and other park opportunities for the community! Some of these improvements will include increasing the size of the park, removing contaminated sediments from the lagoon, improving trails, and updating sports courts. Critical to this project is the hydrologic and hydraulic floodplain modeling analysis of dual objectives: Maintaining the flow reduction performance of the reconfigured stream/floodplain system & confirming the water level regime is consistent with park use requirements. The team, led by designer HNTB, will discuss the project steps taken from planning to preliminary engineering. Design completion is planned in 2022 with construction to follow.