Published August 25, 2015
From Urban Milwaukee
Local elected officials gathered yesterday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the completion of the Beerline Trail extension. The extension adds a 10-foot wide asphalt trail to the Beerline Trail where there once was just a dirt path and is meant to encourage non-motorized transportation like walking, bicycling, and more (motorized wheelchairs and assistive scooters are allowed). The 0.67 mile long trail stretches from North Richards Street (just north of the intersection on E. Keefe Ave. and N Richards St.), through the railroad bridge over East Capitol Drive, and to a cul-de-sac just north of the railroad bridge. The trail connects the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods.
The trail is part of a larger space known as the ARTery, an “art park” that was home to Vedale Hill’s “Hoop Dreams” art project last year. The ARTery has taken over land that was once a railroad providing transportation for breweries, hence the Beerline name. After its decline, the area became “a hub for graffiti, drugs, and many shady things,” as Hill has noted. But now the area is open to public performances to any group in the area and is home to a performance space, sculptures, and many signs indicating the area has been reclaimed. In recent years, the park has hosted a variety of events meant to engage the community, including potluck dinners, open mic nights, musical and dance performances, mural painting and trivia games.
Dasha Kelly, Creative Consultant and Director of Still Waters Collective, said the project used community feedback to develop the activities and infrastructure that will go into the park. They invited the business community, arts community and residents to engage in different activities and events to envision how to make a space “that would be relevant to their everyday lives,” Kelly said. At last year’s summer music series here, Kelly noted, “people were amazed they were able to come together on this once abandoned space and not feel abandoned as themselves, abandoned as a network and abandoned as a voice.”
As part of the project, the group is not only developing the trail but also doing community development with the different businesses within the neighborhood.
The ARTery is part of the Creational Trails effort, which aims to “activate spaces as a means of encouraging acceptance and growth of the cultural diversity in Milwaukee,” according to its website. The project was initially funded using half of a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America (which also funded other projects in Milwaukee). The ARTery project is led by the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative, and is managed by a non-profit organization called Beintween. The railroad property was bought by the city from a private owner before trail construction.
Read the full article here.