Milwaukee Recreation celebrates Columbia Playfield grand reopening

August 22, 2019

Milwaukee Recreation reopened its renovated Columbia Playfield on Saturday, August 17, 2019, to unveil the playfield’s newly constructed basketball courts, play structures, splash pad, and walking path.

The celebration included MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley, Mayor Tom Barrett, district officials, community stakeholders, and children from the surrounding neighborhood.

“Our young people learn through play, and we want them to have [that] opportunity,” Dr. Posley said.

Last fall, Milwaukee Recreation began work to remodel and rebuild its recreation playfields by breaking ground at the first three sites to be transformed: Columbia, Custer, and Southgate. Columbia is the first playfield to reopen.

Many of Milwaukee Recreation’s playfields were built in the 1920s and 1930s. The existing outdoor recreation system is comprised of 52 active-use playfields encompassing more than 300 acres of programmed space. The majority of these sites serve as neighborhood scale parks with traditional recreational facilities such as ballfields, tot lots, tennis courts, fieldhouses, and general open space.

“We have to be a city where every kid can have fun in the summer,” Barrett said.

In 2014, the department retained a consultant to conduct a review of its existing facilities and provide a roadmap for improvements to the playfields. The result was the Milwaukee Outdoor Recreation Facilities Master Plan. The plan rated 65 percent of the facilities as fair to poor, and identified more than $25 million in needed improvements over a 10-year span. The department then analyzed the neighborhood and population characteristics surrounding each playfield to create a priority list of projects that emphasized racial and economic equity.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to recreate and we now have an equitable way to prioritize the renovation projects and truly level the playing field in our city,”

Milwaukee Recreation’s senior director Lynn A. Greb said. “Columbia Playfield will showcase the tremendous investment we’re making in our community.” Milwaukee Recreation will also officially reopen Custer Playfield on Saturday, Sept. 14. To RSVP for the reopening event visit,