BROWN DEER -- After decades with a road that makes a full circle around Brown Deer Park, officials say they're closing a stretch of the parkway permanently. The Milwaukee County Park Department's message to upset residents is there are two key reasons for the project.
For some people, walking or riding laps around the park is their routine. The parks department says closing that road will not only improve the golf experience, but it will make those joggers and cyclists safer.
"It's a handy place for me to exercise," said Bruce Bartelt, during a walk around the park.
The road that winds through Brown Deer Park is Bartelt's walking course.
"I do a lap around the park just about every day, when the weather is nice," said Bartelt.
In the coming weeks, walkers and particularly drivers will have to change course.
"What we wanted to do was build that additional tee but we also wanted to separate the uses of the vehicles and the people, the bikers, the walkers, the strollers," said Jim Ciha, parks landscape architect with Milwaukee County Parks Department.
Ciha, a landscape architect with Milwaukee County Parks says golfers at the driving range is part of the reason for the change. The parks department will build a new tee in addition to opening an existing long-distance tee year-round.
"We only shut the road down for major events and we can't keep that range open on a regular basis," Ciha said.
Ciha defends the plan against criticism that the parks department is disrupting other park users for the benefit of paying golfers. He says anyone not driving can simply detour through the path and past the clubhouse, which will lead them back onto the parkway.
"So the uses change but we're providing a much safer transition for all our other users and they're important to us -- as well as the paying customers on the golf course," said Ciha.
According to the Milwaukee County Executive's office, a total of $140,000 has been set aside for the project. Cardinal Stritch University has pledged $50,000, The Park People of Milwaukee County will contribute $20,000, and the other $70,000 is to come from the county's Parks Amenities Matching Fund.
Ciha says the change should slow down drivers since they won't be able to drive all the way through the park.
While drivers will have to make U-turns, Bartelt says he'll walk where he can.
"It sounds like I'll have to make at least some kind of adjustment to my routine," said Bartelt.
The public will have a chance next month to offer its opinion. There will be a hearing about this planned change on June 8th, at the golf course clubhouse.