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Crawford Park

Attendees of Little League baseball games use the concession stand on May 4, 2012, at Crawford Park in Caledonia. The village Parks and Recreation Commission is collecting input about what amenities might be added to the park located on Chester Lane near the new Village Hall.

CALEDONIA — Some of the simplest questions take the most time to decide.

As the village’s Parks and Recreation Commission pored over residents’ suggestions for Crawford Park last week, one question bubbled to the surface: How big should the amphitheater be?

Crawford Park, 5199 Chester Lane, located adjacent to Village Hall and the proposed new home for the Police Department, is set to be relatively rapidly developed with attractions — possibly including a splash pad, athletic fields, beer garden and a handful of other ideas — over the next one or two decades. But a master plan needs to be approved by the Village Board first.

The village owns a little more than 40 acres for the park, Village Hall and proposed police station. There is an adjacent lot of 9.3 acres the village would like to acquire, but the parcel’s private owner hasn’t agreed to a selling price with the village.

Last week, Parks and Recreation Commission members met with a civil engineer to go over that plan, hoping to make a few tweaks and decisions based on community input before presenting the plan to the board.

“It should be dynamic and grow with the village,” Jeremy Hinds, the civil engineer from Milwaukee-based Key Engineering Group, said.

“We’re building our parks for the whole community, with the growth of the community,” added Scott Warner, who stepped down as committee president after last week’s meeting because of conflicting time obligations.

When it came to the amphitheater, which is expected to be situated near the center of Crawford Park, multiple committee members thought the original proposal made it too big, with room for well more than 100 concertgoers in the audience.

They didn’t think a big bandshell or concert venue was needed, suggesting it could be smaller and less of a centerpiece. It would be more casual that way.

Outgoing Village Trustee Jay Benkowski liked the idea of modeling the stage after the South Milwaukee Downtown Market, where concerts and community events like food truck festivals have become increasingly popular with locals, even drawing people from the City of Milwaukee or from Racine County. The same goes for South Milwaukee’s Grant Park, he said.

“Do they have hundreds of thousands of people there (at Grant Park)? No. But every Friday and Saturday, there will be 50 or 75 people there on a nice night. There will be a minstrel there with an amp and guitar, or a two-piece group comes in,” Committee Member Earl Bednar said. “Let’s get people into our park.”

Events like that, bolstered by revenue from field rentals, will bring in revenue, Benkowski said: “Those fields represent income to parks, which pays for maintenance.”

Other ideas

One idea which came out of an April 3 public involvement meeting that could come to fruition for Crawford would be expanding the proposed dog park. The original proposal was only 16,800 square feet, which is smaller than two-fifths of an acre.

“People like the dog park. There were a lot of comments about the dog park and it being larger in size,” Hinds said.

Committee members supported having at least two connecting roads into the heart of the park: one to the southwest at Chester Lane and one to the south directly connecting to 4 Mile Road, although they considered asking for a stoplight to be added to control traffic at 4 Mile Road. An eastward exit onto Secretariat Lane also is possible. A northward entrance from Heidi Drive seemed unlikely.

They also briefly considered the idea of adding a sledding hill, after a resident suggested it. The idea of adding a swimming pool also was acknowledged.

New president

Patrick Flynn was unanimously selected to be the new Parks and Recreation Commission president to replace Warner. Bednar was voted in as vice president. Kathy Burton will stay on as secretary.

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Adam Rogan (SCHS '14, Drake U. '17) has been covering homelessness, arts & culture and just about everything else for the JT since March 2018. He enjoys mid-afternoon naps, loud music played quietly and social media followers @Could_Be_Rogan

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