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Hidden Quarry Site Eyed for Park Potential

Owner of abandoned quarry also may seek to build apartments there.

A quarry tucked away in the city's northeast side could be developed into a stunning park that would be a draw for residents countywide, some city officials say.

Or upscale apartments or condominiums could be constructed on the northern end of the quarry, which would raise tax revenue to help fund a smaller park plan on just the south end.

Members of the city's Plan Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission are reviewing their options as they wait to see if the quarry property owner files a request to build housing there. The quarry is located south of Burleigh Road, north of Center Street and east of Lilly Road.

The 85-acre site includes a 23-acre quarry lake, whose water clarity ranks among the top 7 percent of all bodies of water in the state, according to R.A. Smith National Inc., hired by the city to detail development options. 

Ald. Rick Owen told fellow plan commissioners at a meeting this week that he and Ald. Gary Mahkorn recently trudged through steep snow banks to see the lake.

"It is an amazing sight, even at this time of year," Owen said.

Ald. Mark Nelson said the site "could be a wonderful landmark for the county, quite frankly," not unlike Fox Brook Park, a county-owned site in Brookfield with a quarry lake. 

But how to finance park improvements is a big question.

In tight budget times, aldermen will need to decide if they can find funds – especially if it means raising taxes – to build amenities there such as trails and viewing platforms.

The owner of the quarry, James Sileno of the Quarry Group, has had interest in developing part of the land. But the projected costs of grading an area he would be required to dedicate to the city as parkland under city development rules was believed to be a deal-breaker, said Dan Ertl, city director of community development.

So the owner had talked about donating the entire quarry, which was operated from 1921 to 1978, to the city. The city then would have to come up with all funds for park development. 

The city could, in turn, sell part of the land for private multifamily development to help fund park improvements and gain tax base.

But in recent weeks, the Quarry Group has showed renewed interest in developing housing there, perhaps in partnership with the city, Ertl said.

The site has significant runoff and dangerous ravines. Developing it to add passable park trails, even rustic ones, would be costly.

Ertl said that negotiations will continue as city officials ponder the best future for the site.

Concerned Citizen February 11, 2011 at 11:45 PM
We are empty nesters who love to travel and own our large single family property free and clear. We'd like to stay here and would be VERY interested in a condo development done in the single family or duplex style with a water view and park land nearby. That would be unique in Brookfield. I suggest the owner check out the Danell Heights condos in Menomonee Falls, off Fond du Lac Avenue--something along that order. Brookfield has a number of condos done in a multistory apartment style configuration and that's not something that interests us. These buildings are typically tucked into busy commercial areas with no views. But the right type of development, heck yes. It's that or move out of Brookfield eventually.
Lisa Sink (Editor) February 12, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Interesting to hear about the condo designs in Brookfield, having never really shopped it. Yes, the city doesn't have the lake views like Lake County. Maybe a quarry lake would be an opportunity. I'll obviously keep following the story.
Lisa Sink (Editor) February 12, 2011 at 02:21 AM
Lake CountRy that is.... Waukesha County's lake country....

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