My name is Emma Rudd, and I am the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance. While I am here as a champion for preservation, I would like to note that I also have a background rooted in business and architecture that lends a different insight to the situation surrounding the Domes. I would like to use this opportunity to speak on behalf of many of my fellow residents regarding Mitchell Park and the Domes.
The Domes, as they stand, are in better shape than almost any other historic structure in need of repair that I’ve studied. The park as well has opportunities for simple, cost-efficient improvements that will revitalize the health of the surrounding neighborhood. We’ve heard a lot of discussion about cost today, but should the Domes be demolished or altered, what building will take its place and where is the funding for that new building coming from?
My greatest fear is that the Domes will be demolished and we will lose an historic landmark to the promise of a new state-of-the-art facility, and the park will remain in its current state of disrepair. Until plans and funding sources are clearly stated, any promise of improvement will remain an empty promise that is simply a disinvestment in the neighborhood and the historic fabric of Milwaukee.
The way forward should not be this difficult – all of the current difficulty stems from the carefully crafted narrative of these reports which choose to focus on problems rather than solutions. At this point, the omission of all sides of the story seems to come across as a deliberate, agenda driven narrative.
Preservation means more than just “replace in kind.” To protect our historic landmarks, preservation must be proactive – a living, breathing solution that can mean rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, and even, on occasion, compromise. If Donald Grieb were alive today and knew of the modern solutions that perfect his original design, I like to think he would be a champion for them as I am trying to be today.
Do not think of the Domes and Mitchell Park as a “problem to be solved” – rather, think of it as an opportunity to preserve an iconic historic building, and a gorgeous urban landscape that supports education, community, and the betterment of this city as a whole. I hope from today forward, you as a committee will dig deeper into all sides of the story and more than just the facts being presented to you. I also hope that this leads to a more strategic conversation, and a solution that the entire community can rally behind.