Glendale — Glendale City Administrator Richard Maslowski has overseen the development of Bayshore Town Center, corporate parks and numerous big-ticket infrastructure projects, but the hallmark moment of his 36-year career came Wednesday, June 22, with the groundbreaking of Richard E. Maslowski Community Park.
For nearly 30 years, Maslowski has dreamed of turning a former landfill site on the west end of Bender Road into a special gathering place with summer concerts, youth sports and a playground for families. Unlike all of the other major commercial and infrastructure projects he has taken on, he said a park is an investment in the community itself.
'We've spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money investing in our manufacturing, our job creation, our commercial areas and our infrastructure,' he said. 'But this is our first true investment in the people of Glendale.'
Maslowski is not one to seek recognition or limelight, but Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy said the decision to name the park after him was an easy one.
'If you look at pictures of what Glendale looked like in the 1970s and what Glendale looks like today, there's nothing in this city that doesn't have the fingerprints of Richard Maslowski,' Kennedy said. 'He's been a visionary who has led our city through so many transformations over time.'
The Glendale Common Council announced the park would be named after Maslowski in April, when he was hospitalized for more than a month due to pneumonia. Maslowski, 66, has a chronic lung disease called sarcoidosis that has in turn caused issues for his heart, which has to pump harder than a normal heart.
As he weighs the possibility of retirement, he is satisfied to see his nearly 30-year vision for a park become a reality.
'It's quite an honor,' he said. 'I'm very humbled and flattered by the fact that this park will be my legacy, so to speak.'
Nicolet Superintendent Robert Kobylski said the park has been a priority for Maslowski ever since their first meeting with each other.
'He said, 'Bob, can I interest you in leasing 14 acres of property for a dollar per year for the next 50 years,'' Kobylski recalled. 'I immediately extended my hand and said 'I'm in.''
Maslowski first attempted the project in the late 1980s with the Glendale-River Hills Recreation Department, and then it was tried again in the early 2000s with Cardinal Stritch University and Nicolet and again in 2010 with Cardinal Stritch. The concept was hamstrung by lack of funds, environmental remediation costs and an agreement with Whitefish Bay, which owns part of the land.
The fourth time was a charm. After more than two years of discussions and significant fundraising efforts, the city of Glendale and Nicolet High School have partnered to create a new park that will feature a community building, outdoor stage and amphitheater, universally-accessible playground, veterans memorial, beer garden, two softball fields and a new baseball field for the Nicolet Knights.
The city spent $750,000 last year to build a new road with streetlights and sidewalks that will be used to access the future park. Construction of the park begins July 5. The community center, playground, veterans memorial and beer garden will be completed by the end of the year. Landscaping and the parking lot will be completed next spring.
The $3.7 million park project will be funded by $2.5 million in donations on behalf of the city, and $1.2 million from Nicolet. The $3.7 million price tag does not include the cost of Nicolet's baseball field and the two softball fields, which will be built when the funds are raised.
The city's fundraising effort, organized by Alderman Richard Wiese and Gregg Herman, will fund the amphitheater, playground, veterans memorial, beer garden, half of the parking lot and the bulk of the community center.
Nicolet intends to pay for the athletic storage and team rooms in the community center, as well as half the parking lot, with a portion of the money it expects to receive in March for the sale of the upper athletic field south of Pick 'n Save, 6969 N. Port Washington Road.