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Initial plans for green project making use of Milwaukee's tent city revealed

NOW: Initial plans for green project making use of Milwaukee’s tent city revealed

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Initial plans for a project that will make use of Milwaukee's former homeless encampment known as 'tent city' were revealed to the community on Tuesday, Nov. 26, during a public input open house at Milwaukee's Public Market. 

The space will be used to control stormwater runoff. 

Tent city is state-owned land located under the Marquette interchange near 6th and Clybourn, and as of Tuesday, only a handful of tents are leftover. 

City officials say most of the tents needed to go before crews could survey the area for the project. 

”In your particular line of sight of your plans, if there’s a big tent it doesn’t obviously help your operations," said Brian DeNeve, Communications Officer for Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works. "So it was really important to have the area clear." 

”It’s an opportunity to really take some of the dirtiest water from the freeways and treat that water before it enters the waterways," said Kurt Sprangers, Stormwater Manager for Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works. 

Dozens waited in line to put in their two cents on the future of the tent city space. 

”I don’t know if it’s a better plan, but if the city is not allowing them to live there, rather than it being like a vacant den you might as well fill it with something like that,” said Milwaukee resident, Emmy Yates. ”I’d like to see a pump track, mountain bike features and a skateable section.”

”I’d like to see dog parks, I’d like to see hiking paths and even if necessary car parking lots, in other words a use,” said another resident, Timothy Frautschi. 

The city-led project has two phases in partnership with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. 

Sprangers says the first phase of the project will focus on managing more than two miles of freeway stormwater runoff in environmentally friendly ways. 

“Depressed areas that have an engineered soil layer, a planted top surface and then also some storage underneath that allow the stormwater to settle,” said Sprangers. 

The second phase will focus on the long-term usage of the space. 

”It may include possible green space or areas that people can interact with for connectivity, visibility and just better community amenities,” adds DeNeve. 

DeNeve says the first phase of the project will cost an estimated $1 million, it will be funded through an MMSD program. Construction is expected to begin next summer. 

There will be one more open house on Dec. 17 at MMSD before final project planning begins.

The city hopes to have a final construction plan by June. 

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