MILWAUKEE -- The "Show Dome" at the Mitchell Park Conservatory will reopen on Friday, April 29th at 11:00 a.m. -- two days ahead of the targeted reopening date of May 1st, and exactly three months after the Arid Dome was closed, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced Tuesday, April 26th. All three Domes have been closed since early February.
Admission Friday will be complimentary.
"We said May 1st, and they'll open Friday the 29th, so people get a couple of extra days," Abele said.
In announcing the reopening, Abele also announced the date and time for the first community input session at the Domes.
According to a statement from the County Executive's Office, the session will be held Saturday, April 30th, from 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Domes Lobby and
will "provide an update regarding the reopening of the other Domes, review the community engagement process, expectations and timeline, and facilitate
input from community participants."
Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb said he wants an update not only on the repairs but also on Abele's long-term plan for the Domes.
"They`re not extending the life of the Domes, and so, a real decision about the future of the Domes is still required. It`s still unclear if it`s real support," Lipscomb said.
Abele, who has not ruled out one day replacing the Domes, said it is important to explore every available option.
"If, after all that process, the public says `you know what? We`ve seen all these views. We want the Domes for another 50 years' -- OK, we`ll do that, and we`ll do it as efficiently and sustainably as we can," Abele said.
On April 5th, Abele won re-election over State Senator Chris Larson, who said he hopes Abele is sincere about his desire to listen to the public.
"Because what he`d find is there is a huge appetite for keeping our heritage going and keeping the Domes going," Larson said.
Dueling Task Forces
As for who will track public input, that's a bit of a mystery.
Both Abele and the Milwaukee County Board have established separate Domes task forces.
"My first suggestion is we not have two dueling study committees," Lipscomb said.
"We agree that doesn`t make sense and we should combine them," Abele said, "We haven`t finalized what that task force is gonna look like but I`m sure we can come to an agreement of one task force."
On the dotted line
Lipscomb says one reason he questions Abele's sincerity about the Domes is the executive's decision not to sign two different resolutions authorizing funding for the repairs. If the county executive does not sign a resolution, it automatically takes effect; Abele would need to veto a measure if he opposed it.
"I think you could read his statements to be pretty clear that he would be OK with them going away," Lipscomb said.
Abele says he didn't sign the resolution because, in addition to the funding, it also created the board's task force.
"Had I wanted to stop the funding, I could’ve," Abele said, "I wanted the funding to go through."
Abele said in the statement that the Show Dome will reopen as the Spring show, “Garden Impressions,” is in full bloom.
“Garden Impressions” will run throughout the spring season, transitioning to the summer show, “Summer on Olympus,” which begins June 11th, Abele said.
Abele said in the statement he is "thrilled" to announce this reopening:
“I’m thrilled to announce that, thanks to the great effort of Milwaukee County staff, hardworking construction crews, and dedicated volunteers, we will begin the process of safely reopening the Domes ahead of schedule, with the Show Dome opening this Friday. As we welcome visitors to the Show Dome to experience its spring color and beauty this weekend, we also invite visitors to take part in our community engagement process for the long-term planning on the future of the Domes.”
Abele said it will take six to eight weeks to get the next Dome ready, and then another six to eight weeks for the third Dome.
We're told the goal is to reopen all three Domes by the end of the summer.
The all began with the Domes when the Arid Dome was closed on January 29th, after a piece of concrete fell from the Arid Dome. On February 5th, officials said all three Domes would be closed due to safety concerns.
The Milwaukee County Board on March 17th approved $500,000 in funding for repairs to the Mitchell Park Domes. This, as Abele announced the creation of a "Domes Long-Term Planning Steering Committee" that will "help seek public input and create a vision for a facility which serves the needs of a broad spectrum of Milwaukee County residents and organizations, as well as create recommendations on how to proceed."
Milwaukee County Parks officials said the $500,000 for Domes repairs would cover nets in the Show Dome.
Milwaukee County Parks Director Dargle has said it will cost another $500,000 to take care of the Arid Dome and Tropical Dome. Parks officials were expected to come back to the County Board in May to possibly request additional funding to repair the Arid and Tropical Domes.