MILWAUKEE -- The Mitchell Park Domes have been closed until further notice -- creating a bit of a panic for those planning weddings at the Domes. Other wedding vendors are stepping up to help out the brides and grooms-to-be.
The Arid (desert) Dome was closed on January 29th -- after a fallen chunk of concrete was discovered. On Friday, February 5th, officials said all three Domes would be closed for the weekend due to safety concerns. Now, we have learned all three Domes will remain closed indefinitely.
So the Domes are no longer an option for brides and grooms -- but the greenhouse to the right of Tropical Dome, where the Winter Farmers' Market takes place is.
"We got the call and reality check that this is actually true. We're not going to get this. You got the 11th hour to figure out where you're going to go and where you're going to be and where you're going to put your guests and how you're going to let your vendors know," Melinda VerDuin said.
It's not a dilemma VerDuin and Jon Waite imagined they'd be sorting out two-and-a-half weeks before their wedding. VerDuin and Waite were planning on getting married at the Mitchell Park Domes.
"Panic, anxiety, pure sadness," VerDuin said.
But the Domes are closed -- as engineers try to determine where, exactly the chunk of debris fell from -- and how to prevent this from happening again.
"The Domes will remain closed until we can ensure that there is no risk to the public using them," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.
"I thought 'it will be fine. They'll put up some netting' -- and then to find out that it really wasn't going to be (fine)..." Waite said.
"It's a reminder we didn't get what we want," VerDuin said.
Zilli Hospitality, which contracts with the Domes is working with brides like VerDuin on a case-by-case basis.
Others are also stepping up to help.
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Balistreri says less than 24 hours after the news broke that the Domes will remain closed until further notice, she had couples contacting her about the options at Brookfield Suites.
"Panic, extra stress that they shouldn`t have," Balistreri said.
Hoping to lessen that, Balistreri is doing what she can with pricing, deadlines and planning -- fitting what normally can be a two-month process into about two weeks or less.
"We`d definitely be able to get it done for them in time," Balistreri said.
As for the Domes -- while lab testing is being done, plans for some much-needed repairs are being made.
"Right now we are evaluating a short-term fix which involves wrapping the concrete casings that surround the joints of those steel frames that have been part of the source of the issues. Some of those concrete casings have been cracking and pieces have been falling," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said on Monday.
Repairs may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Replacing one Dome could cost $17 million.
Brookfield Suites Hotel & Convention Center may be able to help some brides-to-be affected by this situation. You're invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.