Milwaukee park moves forward with classic car “garden”

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Rendering of the Historic Highway 41 Garden. Courtesy South 27th Street Business District Association

You know what they say about one person’s junk, right?

A Milwaukee County park will soon celebrate the area’s automotive history by creating a “classic car garden” that it hopes will give visitors a reason to actually get out of their cars and enjoy the great outdoors.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Historic Highway 41 Garden project is a part of a three-year agreement between the Milwaukee County Parks Department and the South 27th Street Business District Association. The Milwaukee County Board gave the plan the green light in May after an environmental assessment of the 2.3-acre lot determined there was no reason for concern.

Milwaukee Classic Car Garden - rendering 2
Rendering of the Historic Highway 41 Garden. Courtesy South 27th Street Business District Association

“Now there’s going to be a reason for people to get out of their cars and look around,” says Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas. “A used park is a safe park.”

Historic Highway 41 Garden will be located on an unused portion of Milwaukee’s Wilson Park. It celebrates Highway 41, a 2008-mile stretch of north-south road that opened in 1926 and runs from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Miami. Highway 41 parallels heavily trafficked I-75 through most of Georgia and Florida.

The classic car garden will feature shells of classic cars, along with native flower beds, benches, picnic tables, and accessible pathways connecting to businesses along South 27th Street. Local artists will be commissioned to paint and design the cars.

Milwaukee Classic Car Garden - rendering 3
Rendering of the Historic Highway 41 Garden. Courtesy South 27th Street Business District Association

Tara Cavazos, executive director of the South 27th Street Business District Association, says that in addition to honoring Highway 41, the garden will also commemorate the growth and development of the Milwaukee area in the 1950s. Cavazos says the idea is to generate interest in an area that is “pretty empty of activity.”

According to the Journal Sentinel, the business district will spend $30,000 to make improvements to the site. It will also be responsible for maintaining the garden. Cavazos and Haas had hoped construction would begin this summer, but red tape has delayed its creation until spring 2022.

“It’s a great idea,” Haas says. “It’s getting burdened with, until very recently, unforeseen administrative requirements.”

Fortunately, the non-running cars that are destined for the park won’t be going anywhere anyway.

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