Menomonee Valley RiverWalk
In July 2017, Milwaukee’s Common Council approved a substitute ordinance establishing a Site Plan Review Overlay Zone which extended the Milwaukee Riverwalk along the Menomonee River in the Valley, a major recommendation and catalytic project outlined in the Valley 2.0 Plan. The expansion represents the western most portion of the Riverwalk and spans from the existing Third Ward Riverwalk westward to Three Bridges Park (South 27th Street).
The Design Standards for the Menomonee Valley Riverwalk, which were adopted by Common Council in February of 2019, were the result of a process which involved a partnership between the City of Milwaukee DCD and Menomonee Valley Partners (MVP).
The design standards document proposes a recommended trail path and connections based on each site’s ability to accommodate the Riverwalk including understood challenges and constraints. It also establishes the aesthetic concept for the Riverwalk and design requirements. Before the Menomonee Valley was altered by industrial development, it was a vast wetland of grasses, reeds, wild rice and cattails. Native peoples and early settlers thrived on the harvest of fish, fowl and rice that came from the natural richness of the valley. On higher ground around the edges of the valley native trees like White Oak, Balsam Poplar and White Cedars grew in groves.
The concept of the Menomonee Valley Riverwalk landscape is to combine and contrast these two landscape types by planting long expanses of grasses punctuated by groupings of native Wisconsin trees. The Riverwalk Trail through the grasslands will be simple and economical black asphalt with sidings of grey, crushed stone. The secondary landscape will be the “Arboretum Groves” of native trees and will break up the long linear expanses of grasses with relatively small, dense groves of trees. These groves will provide a place of shade and repose with seating from which the river can be viewed. Each grove will have a minimum of 12 tress that will be lit in the evening, bike parking, and seating along the river. Because of the Valley’s size, the riverwalk will be 12 to 15 feet wide to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists.