History of Green Bay's Parks

East River Parkway

In 1938, the president of the Park Board, Enos Colburn, asked the City Attorney to investigate the possibility of using an old dump east of the East River for park and playground purposes.

1948 - Some additional lots were purchased in the area of Amy and John Streets.

1949 - The Common Council adopted a resolution designating certain lands as a parkway, and the boundaries were defined and placed on the Official City Map to include areas on each side of the East River.

1951 - Heirs of an estate donated 4.5 acres, Lots 2-18, Blk. 149 in memory of George J. Meyer - between Mason St. and Kurtz Ave. on the west side of the East River.

1954 - In November the Green Bay Park Board and City Commission jointly recommended that $10,000 be provided in the budget each year for the purchase of property in the East River Parkway. By 1957, there was a total of 118 acres.

1960 - An area on the east side of the river known as East Joannes was turned over to the County to be used as a site for a University Extension. A shelter was completed December 1960 located at John Street on the east side of the river.

June 1961, the Council approved a request to include $10,000 in the department budget for the next five years to continue the parkway acquisition program. At the same time, the State created a Recreation Committee "to promote, encourage, and coordinate a long-range plan to acquire, maintain and develop for public use parks..." and $50,000,000 was allocated to be used over the next 10 years.

1962 - Director Vernon H. Krieser, with the help of the Planning Director, applied for and received approval to use matching state and federal funds to acquire property in the Parkway.

The Brown County Conservation Alliance offered to develop a wildlife refuge along the Parkway but this was turned down.

1965 - The official boundaries were extended to the town of Bellevue.

1967 - The Board of Park Commissioners suspended snowmobile activities in the Parkway.

1973 - Final acquisitions in 10-year project - about 880 acres.

1976 - The Board of Park Commissioners granted permission to the Optimist Minor League to erect a portable storage building at East River Lawe Street near the diamond. In 1981, this area was named East River-Van Beaver Park in honor of Roger Van Beaver who had worked at that diamond for many years.

1989 - The Wednesday Noon Optimists donated a shelter building at East River-Lawe, which they used to store their athletic equipment.

1990 - The Wednesday Noon Optimists were given permission to put concrete flooring in the dugouts at East River - Lawe Park.

1990 - An agreement was reached with Mr. Charles to exchange city property adjacent to 1486 E. Mason Street, where Mr. Charles put in a parking lot, for land at the rear of his lot. DPW would retain access to the bridge for maintenance when ice jams occurred. The City had right of first refusal and the parcel was purchased in 2002.

1994 - A Little League diamond was constructed at East River-Lawe with the Wednesday Noon Optimists.

1995 - Approval was given to allow the Optimist Club to construct a cedar building, dugouts and install a flagpole at East River-Lawe Park.

2002 - East River-Lawe Park was renamed East River Optimist Park.

2003 - The Optimists received permission to build additional storage sheds at East River Optimist and Emilie Parks.

East River Trail

Sie and Sie Enterprises, Inc., owners of the former Northland Cold Storage Building located on the southwest corner of Webster and Cedar Streets adjacent to the East River, provided the City with a perpetual easement along the north side of their building for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a waterfront parkway in exchange for vacating the alley between their property and Belgioioso Cheese.


  1. Only annotated statements have been verified. Any other historical statements are unverified and based on personal knowledge or informal notes kept by the Green Bay Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department.
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