Former Industrial Brownfield Becomes Lake Michigan Park

The Takeaway: State coastal management program funds community trails, storm-resilient natural infrastructure, and more.

A Lake Michigan bluff formerly contaminated with arsenic from a 1920s chemical plant has gotten a deep-clean and facelift as Lake Vista Park, thanks in part to a $100,000 grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. Lake Vista Park is the lynchpin of a 98-acre remediation project in the City of Oak Creek.

The grant funded the following features:

  • More than 3,000 linear feet of walking trail along the dramatic lake bluff and leading to a picnic shelter
  • Nearly four acres of bluff prairie vegetation, 11 acres of plantings that absorb and filter stormwater, and a 400-foot water channel
  • A trail bridge, viewing deck, and nature park
  • Seven interpretive signs

Other park features include a glass-walled pavilion and two large raingardens meant to slow down stormwater and channel it away from vulnerable areas.

Improving and expanding public access is an important priority for Wisconsin’s coastal program. Between 2012 and 2017, program support has enhanced public access at 15 state sites.

The City of Oak Creek led the large-scale project, which was made possible by the state’s Voluntary Party Liability Exemption program. More than 200 Wisconsin sites have benefitted from this environmental cleanup and reuse initiative, which allows owners of former industrial-sites to transfer their liability to the state. (2018)


Partners: City of Oak Creek, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program