Park West Redevelopment Task Force Records, 1963-1983


The Park West Redevelopment Task Force (PWRTF) was a private, non-profit organization created in 1977 to administer the redevelopment of the land cleared for the Park Freeway West, an expressway that would have connected downtown Milwaukee with the northern and western suburbs. Funding for the PWRTF came from various sources, but primarily the Community Development Block Grant Program administered by the city of Milwaukee. The city of Milwaukee's Department of City Development was the monitoring agency for the PWRTF.

The "North Avenue Expressway" (renamed the "Park Freeway West" in 1964) was designed in 1954 to run northwesterly along Fond du Lac Avenue and turn west at North Avenue and 24th place. It was to be a 3.2 mile link between Interstate 43 and the proposed Stadium North Freeway (Interstate 41). Four square miles or approximately 145 acres were part of the actual planning area. The Milwaukee County Expressway and Transportation Commission began property acquisition in 1962, and cleared the land for the freeway between 1966-1972. In 1972, construction halted after a coalition of Westside citizens groups obtained a court injunction, forcing the Commission to comply with Federal Environmental Standards. The Commission conducted an Environmental Impact Statement and submitted it to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). In December 1976, the DOT rejected the study as inadequate and a new use of the land had to be found.

In 1977, Congressman Henry Reuss created the 22-member PWRTF in consultation with Milwaukee County Board Chair Thomas Ament, Milwaukee County Common Council President Ben Johnson, and State Assembly Majority Leader James Wahner. Its membership included representatives from community organizations, and local, county, and state officials.

The PWRTF was to redevelop the Park West lands for housing, commercial areas, improvement of social services and public facilities. The PWRTF's major focus was to transfer the land from the state and county to the City of Milwaukee, to identify areas for redevelopment, and to find a suitable private developer. The PWRTF favored New York developer Aaron Gleich's housing plans, but Milwaukee's Redevelopment Authority selected local developer's B.J and Harold Sampson. PWRTF chairman State Senator Gary George declared its planning functions complete in November 1982, and grant funding ended within a week.