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Something old, something new: The Third Ward unveils its first-ever playground

The three-year project cost nearly $90,000 and was primarily funded by community donations.
Posted at 5:47 PM, Aug 27, 2021

MILWAUKEE — While there are many treasures to stumble across walking through the Third Ward, before today, a playground was not one of them.

"You were getting in your car if you were a Third Ward resident, you were getting in your car to go to a playground. There wasn't anything walk-able," said Jim Plaisted, Executive Director at the Historic Third Ward Association.

Plaisted spearheaded the project over the last three years with the help of more than 70 donors raising nearly $90,000. The park is located at Erie and Jefferson streets.

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Paige Sheldrup, a nanny that works just blocks away from the park, is relieved the park is finally open so she can take her kid out to play rather than driving out to nearby parks.

"She keeps asking me, 'when is the orange fence going to be down so we can play at the new park,'" said Sheldrup.

While it is brand new, the park carries something old. Named after its signature gas light lamp fixtures, Gas Light Park will continue to display three gas light lamps that date back to the late 1800s.

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"These are gas light fixtures that you see all over the Third Ward. They, unfortunately, can't be rewired or brought back to life, but they're still great fixtures and just a remembrance of where we've been," said Plaisted.

Plaisted's challenge and goal is to create more green spaces in the Third Ward's urban, industrial landscape.

The park was built on land owned by WE Energies. Beneath the park was once a power plant that has now been capped in order to utilize the land as an outdoor space for the community.

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