Humboldt Park restroom upgrades and new cedar roof completed

June 30, 2017

By Sheila Julson

The pavilion, built in 1932 as a Works Progress Administration project, benefited from extensive improvements including a splendid new cedar shake roof and repaired and upgraded restrooms that are now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

The newly completed repairs and upgrades at Humboldt Park Pavilion were made possible through a unique three-way private/public partnership between Milwaukee County Parks, Humboldt Park Friends (HPF), and St. Francis Brewery.

The pavilion, built in 1932 as a Works Progress Administration project, benefited from extensive improvements including a splendid new cedar shake roof and repaired and upgraded restrooms that are now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules.

“The Humboldt Park Pavilion’s freshly remodeled restrooms and new cedar shake roof are making our park shine brightly again,” said Jason Haas, District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor, who serves as chair of the Parks, Energy & Environment Committee. “Both of those improvements have occurred in large part (due) to four years of work by the all-volunteer group Humboldt Park Friends. They led the remodeling effort from start to finish and pushed the Parks Department to get the new and historically-consistent cedar shake roof.”

Restrooms

Efforts to find funding to pay for the pavilion’s long-needed restroom repairs and upgrades received a boost through a partnership with St. Francis Brewery, the park’s beer garden vendor, whose contract stipulated that a percentage of its beverage sales would be directed to a dedicated park maintenance fund.

The brewery was awarded a five-year contract to operate the beer garden in Humboldt Park in 2013 and it began operating in 2014.

Haas said that when the parks department was considering incorporating a beer garden in Humboldt Park, public meetings were held to survey residents’ sentiments. “There was a fair amount of public demand that the brewery put money back in the park,” he said.

In response, Haas proposed that the county’s contract with the brewery include a provision where, beginning in 2015, the brewery would pay a surcharge. Ten percent of its beverage sales would be paid into a dedicated maintenance fund for Humboldt Park.

The county didn’t require the surcharge the first year of the beer garden’s operation because of uncertainty about the degree of its success.

The first year was a success, Haas said, so the brewery began contributing to the maintenance fund in 2015.

Haas noted that Humboldt Park is the only county park whose beer garden contributes to a dedicated maintenance fund.

Efforts to find funding to pay for Humboldt Park Pavilion’s long-needed restroom repairs and upgrades received a boost through a partnership with St. Francis Brewery, the park’s beer garden vendor, whose contract stipulated that a percentage of its beverage sales would be directed to a dedicated park maintenance fund. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

All park improvements are eligible for matching grants through the Parks Amenities Matching Fund, a program that Haas restored to the 2017 county budget. In a press release about the PAMF, he said it provides a dollar-for-dollar match of county money for private funds donated for county park repairs.

Tim Richter, vice president and board member of Humboldt Park Friends, said when the beer garden was originally proposed, his group pushed hard to ensure a percentage of beer garden sales would be placed in a maintenance fund that would help pay for pavilion upgrades and improvements. “That’s part of the lease agreement,” Richter said. “We look at it as a three-way partnership between HPF, the County Parks Department, and St. Francis Brewery.”

He said the total project cost was $55,958 and funded as follows: Maintenance Fund: $22,400; St. Francis Brewery: an additional $1,000; Humboldt Park Friends $5,554; Amenities Matching Grant: $27,004.

“A lot of people seem to think St. Francis Brewery is profiting well and not giving back to the park, but HPF tries to help people understand what is happening on the back end,” Richter said. “St. Francis (also) gives back beyond just the maintenance fund.”

In a special report published by the Compass in December 2014, Haas said, “Although St. Francis Brewery had committed to making $4,500 in improvements to the pavilion, they ultimately spent roughly $50,000 on labor and construction for repairs and improvements to the bathrooms and concession area from 2014 to 2016.”

In addition to improvements to the concession stand and former ice skater warming room, the brewery paid for a major repair in the men’s restroom in 2015. “The piping from the urinals had corroded and was leaking urine. The leak filled the restroom with a foul, pungent stench that was eliminated only after repairs were made,” Haas said.

Additionally, Milwaukee County performed approximately $50,000 worth of critical underground cleanup and sewer infrastructure repairs to the pavilion in 2015. Years of leaking floor pipes under the men’s bathroom urinals created hazardous conditions in a below-ground crawl space.

Milwaukee County Parks Planning and Development chief Jill Organ said a contract for the $20,891 concrete and tile project was bid out to subcontractors. The remainder of the tab, the cost of labor and materials to install new urinals, was paid by the Parks Department, whose staff plumbers performed the work.

Milwaukee County Parks employs 25 trades-people (carpenters, electricians, heating techs, plumbers, and iron workers) who maintain 400 buildings in 158 parks. “We have a small budget, but we prioritize public safety and health as our main priority for maintenance and repairs,” Organ said. “We take care of all the stuff people usually don’t see. We sometimes don’t have the money to take care of all the ‘pretty’ stuff.”

After the underground work at Humboldt Park pavilion was complete, the aboveground remodeling of the restrooms began. Richter said that before the hazardous underground conditions were rectified, it had been difficult to hire a plumbing contractor for the remodeling work.

Because there were some toilets and sinks that were original to the 1932 construction, extensive upgrades were required.

Updates included new tile floors, faucets, mirrors, ADA compliant sinks, bathroom stalls, toilets, floor drains, widened doorways, and baby changing stations in both men’s and women’s rooms. Repairs were also made to windows and to the pavilion’s historic Lannon-stone walls.

JR Plumbing, New Berlin, Wis. performed the plumbing work. Materna’s Maintenance, a general contractor from Kewaskum, Wis., also worked on the restroom project. “It was a challenge to find contractors willing to take this project on,” Richter said. “When you’re dealing with a building that old, there can be plenty of surprises.”

The aboveground restroom remodel began April 10 and was completed April 28.

Cedar Shake Roof

The replacement cedar shake roof cost $330,000, Organ said, and was installed by LeFever Roofing, of Hartland, Wis. LeFever’s website states it specializes in cedar shakes and cedar conversions.

The project was paid with county bond sales, according to Haas.

Organ said that as of June 22, LeFever’s contract had not been closed and wouldn’t be until all punch list items — small finishing type work that the contractor still needs to perform — were complete.

“Real problems existed under the decaying, moss-covered shingles,” Haas said. “LeFever Roofing, repaired leaks that were not evident to the public. The company’s extensive experience with cedar shake roofing is shown through the great job they did with this roof. The project was completed under budget and ahead of schedule.”

In addition to the new roof, repairs were required for the soffit, eaves, and fascia.

Organ praised LeFever’s professionalism and efficiency.

“We’re happy to have this project done, and now we’re working on a long-term restoration plan for the lagoon,” Richter said.

Fundraising for upcoming HPF projects includes a Bocce Benefit fundraiser Saturday, Aug. 12.

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