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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Norris Park gets grand welcome

University President the Rev. Scott Pilarz lifts the veil on the new Norris Park sign at the dedication ceremony held Tuesday. photo by Aaron Ledesma/ [email protected]

As part of the university’s inauguration festivities honoring new President, the Rev. Scott Pilarz, Marquette unveiled Norris Park, a recreational space open to all students and faculty on campus.

The park dedication, held Tuesday and co-sponsored by Marquette Student Government, included live musical performances by Repertoire, Something to Do and Jam ak Jam. Attendees enjoyed light refreshments and complimentary pizza provided by Pizza Shuttle.

Norris Park, on Kilbourn Avenue, between 18th and 19th Streets used to be an empty space with a cracked asphalt surface and poor lighting, according to a flier handed out at the ceremony. The lot used to house an outdoor rollerblade park but quickly became abandoned, unused until the Norris Park renewal project began.

Current improvements include installing new turf and landscaping for club intramural use, better lighting and new fencing, according to a university press release.

Dan Calandriello, a 2007 graduate of Marquette University, was partly responsible for the beginning stages in transforming the vacant space into Norris Park. While president of MUSG from 2006 to 2007, Calandriello said students recognized the need for more recreational space.

“I am sure that green space will always be needed,” Calandriello said. “Cities need these spaces and the students need it to have fun and play the sports they love.”

The park will also be open to the children of Milwaukee’s Rescue Mission and other nonprofit organizations as a place where children can play safely, said Katie Simoncic in a speech at the ceremony. Simoncic is an off-campus senator with MUSG and a senior in the College of Communication.

Entrance to the gated park will be regulated as multiple video cameras have already been installed, Barrett said Tuesday. In order to gain access, a valid Marquette ID is necessary.

John Sweeney, director of recreational sports, said the process of opening Norris Park was long and time-consuming. Sweeney said plans to transform Norris Park date back eight to 10 years ago. Sweeney said the delay was probably in part due to the difficulties that often arise when two different groups attempt to collaborate on a project.

However, the long-awaited green space is an exciting prospect for many Marquette students who have longed for additional recreational space among the heavy urban and residential areas surrounding Marquette’s campus.

“We usually practice over at King Field just north of Highland Avenue,” said Dan Herr, member of the men’s rugby team and senior in the College of Business Administration. “But that is not the nicest place to be or practice. It’s great that now we have this large new space to play at.”

Elizabeth Shalle, a senior in the College of Nursing, also sees benefits for her women’s soccer team practicing at the park.

“Last year, we fought for (practice areas) with other intramurals,” Shalle said. “At Norris Park, we will definitely have the field for two days a week.”

Guaranteed time slots and more practice space is exactly what supporters of the park like Sweeney envisioned.

“We have over 33 club sports and intramural teams,” Sweeney said. “Our biggest priority is satisfying their needs and we never came even close. But now with this new park, we’re here to support our students.”

Sgt. Dan Kolosovsky of the Department of Public Safety says that the park will be on the Kilbourn LIMO express route, and a new blue-light phone has been installed.

Prior to unveiling the Norris Park dedication sign, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spoke on behalf of the city of Milwaukee, praising continuous collaboration with Marquette University.

“Marquette isn’t simply in this neighborhood,” Barrett said. “It is part of this neighborhood. We have had a great long partnership, and this new park will only make things better.”

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