Village of Menomonee Falls - More than 420 Menomonee Falls residents have signed a petition on change.org to save the Village Park Ball Diamond, which is slated for demolition in accordance with the Village Board’s Master Plan.
The future removal of the diamond was one of the key factors in Menomonee Falls Fest coming to an end after 24 years, according to Falls Fest founder Jeff Steliga.
Menomonee Falls resident Heather Stabo started the petition Tuesday, Aug. 2. In one week, 420 supporters of the petition were garnered.
“I started the Village Park Ball Diamond petition because I thought it was important that people were aware that the master plan called for its removal,” Stabo said. “It seems like by the time most people become aware of things like this, there are already contracts in place for demolition and construction of the next thing.”
In place of the Village Park Ball Diamond, the village board plans to turn the space into a music pavilion, but Stabo said she thinks the ball diamond is more economical for Menomonee Falls.
“Teams from around the region come for youth league tournaments and pass through downtown on their way in,” Stabo said. “This creates an awareness of all Menomonee Falls has to offer. Adult leagues often bring teams and families from around the community who begin and end their evening play with food and drink at local restaurants. Our downtown has struggled of late and I feel that the ball diamond does provide additional financial support to the corridor.”
According to Village Manager and Administrator Mark Fitzgerald, the village came to the conclusion that the ballpark was not being utilized enough based on information provided by the school district.
“Our general understanding from them was a pretty consistent pattern of significant down use on that field for leagues of all kinds to the point where it’s being used very little, so what we’re going to do now is go back and revisit that issue and try to be as clear on that issue as we can,” Fitzgerald said.
The master plan was developed in 2015, incorporated into the village’s comprehensive plan and adopted in February. During this time, Fitzgerald said a series of public meetings were held that were well attended, “but we clearly didn’t reach the widest level of the community, which is very difficult to do,” he said.
Now that this many people are coming forward in opposition of the ballpark’s demolition, further review will be done, Fitzgerald said.
“Maybe we can do a public hearing, or some sort of informational meeting, but I do think what we need to do is drill down on that usage component and make sure that’s clear and understood by the village and by the citizens because that was the reason for eliminating the ballpark,” Fitzgerald said. “We believe the usage doesn’t create the need for the ballpark anymore, but we will drill down further and then review this, bring it to the village board, and then find a process that now accommodates this sort of general change in circumstances now that this many people are coming forward somewhat concerned.”
As for Stabo, she hopes this petition will allow community members to voice their opinions to the village board.
“Because this is a master plan, removal of the ball diamond is not imminent nor is it a sure thing, but simply a vision,” Stabo said. “By using a petition to bring out supporters of the diamond, I felt some people may be moved to contact the village board and voice their opinions. How else should the board know the will of the people?"