MILWAUKEE — For the first time in decades, the Franklin Square Playfield got a much-needed upgrade that's giving kids a safe space to have fun.
"Every child, every person in our community deserves a quality, outdoor recreation space to enjoy," said Lynn Greb, the recreation director for the Milwaukee Recreation Department.
Three years and nearly $2 million later, the Franklin Square Playfield Project is finally complete, and the playground is once again open to the public.
"I remember seeing all the dirt hills and dirt mounds and just thinking I'll be glad when they get this park open so then the kids will have something to do," said a neighbor, Tracy Jones.
The transformation is part of Milwaukee Recreation's multi-year effort to renovate 52 playfields throughout the city, to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality outdoor recreation facilities.
"We used an equity model to rank all 52 locations around a number of factors, including poverty levels in the neighborhood, the number of children that live in the neighborhood, crime rates. Franklin Square really rose to the top of that list," said Greb.
The renovated playfield now has a splash pad, obstacle course, upgraded basketball courts, a new playground and more. And it's already a hit with the kids.
"My favorite part is the slide, because it's a really fun time, the big slide," said Reysan Almestiza.
"I played on the swings, I played basketball," said Mauriotae Steward.
"It's beautiful what they've done here, because when I was a kid, it wasn't all of this," said Jones.
Children in the neighborhood loved it so much, they didn't even let the weather rain on their parade.
"It was raining, it was raining too fast, so that's why then we ran into the building," said Almestiza.
"We've got a lot of work left to do, but it's so rewarding and as you can see, rain or shine, we are here enjoying the space," said Greb.
The next area the department plans to work on is the Green Bay Playfield, which is located on North 8th Street in Milwaukee. Construction is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks.
Franklin Square Playfield: