Beaming in on Bender

Have you visited Bender Park, a spectacular site in Oak Creek in Milwaukee County's far southeastern corner? Purchased in the 1960s with the help of federal Land and Water Conservation (LAWCON) funds, the sprawling park, which boasts soaring bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, ravines, wetlands, as well as level green space, has remained largely undeveloped. (After a 30-year delay during which considerably bluffland eroded away, the County stabilized a portion of the bluff and built a marina with a small pavilion.)

Awhile back, the County and Oak Creek proposed turning a large chunk of the park into a tournament-caliber 18-hole golf course -- possibly with residences on adjoining land outside the park and possibly the new home for the Greater Milwaukee Open--with high fees for public play. (A 9-hole course was included in the park's original plan.) The plan was put on hold.

Recently Oak Creek backed a developer who wanted to trade about half of the park, including some pristine forested areas, for land north of the park, which had been polluted by past industrial activity.  POP opposed the trade and it was shot down by the County Board. POP opposes any development of this southeastern jewel, believing that the terrain here should be kept for all county residents to enjoy.

For those who might want to visit this gem in the rough: Off I-94, take the Ryan Road (Hy 700) exit and drive east to Chicago Road (Hy 32). Turn north (left) onto Chicago Road and go a short distance to the South Bound saloon. Turn right onto the eastern extension of Ryan Road and drive east to the park and marina.