BROWN DEER - The Milwaukee County Parks Department's plan to interrupt the circular roadway around Brown Deer Park for an expanded driving range has been shelved due to park-goers demanding the loop be kept in tact.
To keep the circular roadway in tact, the parks department has designed a realigned parkway that will run between the driving range and the putting green, allowing golfers to use the range installed for the Greater Milwaukee Open two decades ago. That range is rarely used because it requires the roadway in front of the range to be blockaded.
At the moment, golfers use one of two ranges in front of the roadway. Balls from those ranges can only be hit 190 yards before they get lost in the wooded area at the rear of the range.
By realigning the roadway behind the range built for the GMO, golfers would be able to hit balls 245 yards to 300 yards before reaching the woods. It would also clear space for a second driving range just in front of the PGA range, in the space where the existing roadway is located. The additional driving range will increase the number of golfing stations to 24 and would ensure that golfers won't hit on the same patch of grass for 21 to 24 days.
"That's the critical mass we were looking for," said Jim Ciha, a landscape architect for the parks department.
The realigned roadway, which was presented during a Friends of Brown Deer Park meeting on March 15, would curve around the rear of the driving range and would narrow from 26 feet to 22 feet during that stretch. A paved 10-foot-wide walking and biking trail would be added along the side of the roadway. For safety reasons, a three-way stop would be included on the east and west sides of the driving range. A 30-foot-long rumble strip would also be installed near each three-way stop.
The main obstacle facing the golf club at this point is that the additional driving range has been postponed indefinitely. The expansion of the driving range was initiated when Cardinal Stritch University's golf team offered $50,000 for the driving range and $50,000 for other improvements, such as the chipping green. Both of those contributions were going to be matched by the parks department.
Likely seeking to distance itself from the controversy of disconnecting a parkway loop designed by Alfred Boerner in 1929, Cardinal Stritch University is no longer offering funds for the improvement of the golf course.
County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb, who called a town hall meeting about the project last year after hearing residents' concerns, suggested the county approach Cardinal Stritch to financially partner on the project, now that the circular loop has been restored.
"We should go back to Cardinal Stritch now that there is no controversy," Lipscomb said. " If they were willing to invest last year, now that there is no controversy, I would hope that they would be willing to invest again with the matching funds that are available."
In lieu of Cardinal Stritch's donation, a task force will be convened to raise funds for the driving range. The task force will include Friends of Brown Deer Park, Brown Deer Men's Golf Club, Milwaukee County and the Milwaukee County Parks Department.
The realignment of the roadway is scheduled to happen this fall and is expected to last roughly 90 days. The rest of the circular loop will be reconstructed in the future, with the design scheduled for 2020 and construction slated for 2021.