Community joins Milwaukee Recreation at Burnham Playfield ribbon-cutting ceremony

July 7, 2022

Local leaders, community partners, and neighbors from around the city joined Milwaukee Recreation at the department’s grand reopening of Burnham Playfield on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

Burnham Playfield (1755 S. 32nd St.), located on the south side of Milwaukee, is a central gathering place in the Burnham Park neighborhood. Milwaukee Recreation is in the midst of renovating its network of 52 playfields throughout Milwaukee. The Burnham Playfield renovation project was guided by the Equity Prioritization Matrix and was developed through extensive conversations with community partners and neighbors.

“Burnham [Playfield] rose to the top of the list for a number of reasons, including the fact that it was developed into a playfield in 1925,” Milwaukee Recreation senior director Lynn Greb said. “While there have been minor improvements over the past 90-plus years, we believe this to be the first major renovation to the site.”

Milwaukee Recreation’s renovation to the east portion of Burnham Playfield included the removal of asphalt paving, the planting of shade trees, and the installation of a new synthetic turf soccer field, walking paths, a new playground, and basketball courts. The wading pool at the playfield was also converted into a user-operated splash pad. New and upgraded site amenities have also been added, including improved lighting, benches, and trash receptacles.

Fieldhouse updates, scheduled to be completed this summer, will include new windows, doors, and accessible restroom facilities. The total investment for the work at Burnham Playfield was $4.4-million.

“What a beautiful day to be here in celebration of something that represents all of the elements that, as a School Board, as a community, we really want to exude,” Director Marcela Garcia of District 6 for the Milwaukee Board of School Directors said.

Several partners, including VIA Community Development Corporation, the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and Zilber Family Foundation, provided incredible support throughout the project.

In addition to the work at Burnham Playfield, Milwaukee Recreation has completed renovations at six other locations since 2019. In the coming summer months, Milwaukee Recreation will announce a ribbon-cutting ceremony date for Green Bay Playfield. Construction is also underway at Carmen Playfield and Stark Playfield.

Community engagement sessions and surveys were conducted at Lincoln Playfield and Modrzejewski Playfield in 2021. The renovation work at those two locations is currently in the design phase, with construction scheduled to begin in 2023.

Notably, all of the work to improve the play spaces operated by Milwaukee Recreation is guided by the department’s equity prioritization matrix to ensure improvements are directed to where they are needed most. Milwaukee Recreation Recreation is conducting a 2022 update to the Equity Prioritization Matrix to expand on the 2016 model to include lessons for equitable open-space assessments from around the country, helping reveal how open space can positively support communities around Milwaukee. The updated plan will guide Milwaukee Recreation’s decision- making. It will include explorations of park access, the existing condition of facilities, an understanding of the people who live around our parks, and conversations about the ways that parks can positively impact individual and community health.

“Prioritizing our projects based on equity remains our number one priority, as we work to ensure that all members of our community have access to quality recreation facilities,” Greb said.