Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bay View's Humboldt Park Beer Garden Hits Delays

By Evan Rytlewski
humboldt park beer garden
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When the Milwaukee County Parks Department announced a proposal this January for the St. Francis beer garden to operate a beer garden in Humboldt Park, the hope was to launch the beer garden in May. One week into the month, however, that timeline now looks unlikely, and the Bay View beer garden still isn't a done deal.

Susie Devcich, chief of recreation and business development at the parks department, says the department has signed off on the beer garden proposal but is waiting for St. Francis Brewery to finalize the deal.

“The parks director has signed off on the contract,” Devcich said. “Now it is up to St. Francis Brewery to get a liquor license and sign the contract as well.”

But obtaining that liquor license through the city will take some time.

According to Alderman Tony Zielinski, who represents Humboldt Park’s Bay View district, St. Francis Brewery's request “should be coming before the licensing committee in either late May or early June.” Asked whether St. Francis seemed on track to obtain approval, in an email Zielinski responded “I am still sorting everything out.”

County Supervisor Jason Haas, who supports the beer garden, speculates that the delays were the result of “the left hand waiting on the right hand."

“If the brewery had perhaps applied a little sooner they could have got it moving a little sooner,” Haas said.

At a public listening session in February, residents voiced mixed opinions about the beer garden, with opponents citing parking and safety concerns.

Haas has argued that the beer garden will generate revenue while making Humboldt Park safer. The extra foot traffic might deter some of the vandalism the park’s pavilion has suffered in recent months, he said. 

“If you take a look at what happened at Estabrook Park once it brought a beer garden it, it brought in a number of really good people with it,” Haas said. “The safety of that park drastically improved after the beer garden went in.”

In response to concerns voiced at February’s listening session, the proposed hours of operation for the beer garden have been shortened. Under the initial proposal, the garden would operate from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Residents took objection to the garden being open during school hours, so the current proposal reduces those hours to 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

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