History of Green Bay's Parks

Farlin Park

Creation of the park

In early 1939, real estate agent Norbert Quigley presented an opportunity to establish a park on 8.5 acres for $8,500. This parcel was between Eastman Avenue and Farlin Avenue along Elizabeth Street – that is, just a block east of where Farlin Park would actually be established. We understand, wrote Quigley, that the North Side is badly in need of a park, and the the City of Green Bay had planned on purchasing this property last year. 1

Twelve years later, with the north side still badly in need of a park, the Plan Commission took the formal step of referring to the Park Board for definite action and recommendation … the request of [Alderman] Dantinne for study of … a playground on the Northeast Side. 2 This proposal progressed so that in January of 1952 the city council passed an ordinance designating … for park purposes the bulk of the current Farlin Park. 3 This portion of the property was purchased from Joseph DeGroot at an appraised value of $5,000, 4 plus an additional lot from Barbara Denesson DeGroot appraised at $500 which she offered to the city because, she wrote, I cannot get a building permit because my lot is also marked on the official map for park purposes. 5

The appraiser noted that the DeGroot property is located immediately east of the property of Green Bay Food Company which is now occupied by large storage tanks and subject to future expansion. 6

Pickle juice

The proximity of the industrial facilities likely reduced the value of the DeGroot property to prospective residential buyers. The city dealt with the potential expansion by buying some of the pickle company's property for an additional $3,860 and adding it to the orignal park property. 7 The conditions of sale provided

that the City will hold the Green Bay Food Company harmless from any damage due to brine escaping from its equipment, that a fence will be erected by the City between the property purchased and the property of the Green Bay Food Company at a date no later than five years from the time of purchase, and that if the City ever has occasion to sell the property the grantor shall be given first consideration. 8

By 1980, however, continuing operations of the pickle plant had severe negative effects on the park. Tests by the State Soil Testing Laboratory found excessive soluable salts in a sample 9 and the park director later characterized the problem by saying, Brine leakage from the large vats had made an area of the park completely barren and unusable. 10 Further testing was performed by a consulting engineer 11 and by 1985 the city (despite the hold-harmless clause) decided to negotiate with Green Bay Food for soil improvement activities. 12 The company was cautiously open to participating and wrote, We would be interested in making a donation to the city for purposes of this repair. 13 Over the next 2 years the city and the company cooperated in completing the project. In the fall of 1987 the park committee was told, After much planning and negotiation, the Company agreed to pay for removal of all sterile soil, installing adequate drainage, filling, seeding and relocation of some facilities which came to over $75,000. 14


The shelter house was requested by the city council in May of 1956 as a location for voting; in response, the park board voted to pursue a combined Comfort Station and Voting Booth to be erected in Park commonly called, Farlin Avenue Park, adding and we request $7700 which we figure will provide for this building. 15 The council immediately agreed to this amount 16 — which proved to a very accurate estimate 17 — and by September the city had listed the final items still needing attention by the contractor (punchlist). 18

In the summer of 1960 Alderman Dantinne asked that a Tennis Court be installed in Farlin Park and by May of the next year the contractor was given notice to proceed with the construction. 19

At some point a basketball hoop was installed, but Michael Schoepp was not satisfied. In 1974 he wrote to his alderman saying, My friends and I like to play basketball. Farlin Park has a basketball hoop and backboard but has no hard surface to dribble the ball on. It is difficult with the soft ground and grass. So I am writing to you hoping that a cement slab or black top surface could be installed, not just for me, but for everyone who likes to play basketball. 20 The park department responded the next month, saying Purchase Orders for blacktopping this court has already been written, and the work will be done as soon as weather permits. This is a part of the long range program of hardsurfacing all basketball courts in the municipal park system. 21

Some good ideas were greeted with less enthusiasm. When Ald. Dantinne suggested a wading pool in 1964, the department decided that counstruction of any new wading pools should be postponed another year while staff investigated problems with the filtration systems at the existing pools. 22 Twenty years later, Alderman Harold Compton wrote, On behalf of constituents I request that a wading pool for small children be developed in Farlin Park for 1985. That request was tabled. 23 (Much later, a splashpad was built instead.) 24

Parking had originally been set up at the end of Harold Street, in a lot that extended south from the street past the shelter house (voting booth). 25 While this provided simple access to the shelter house, it also encouraged noise, alcohol, illegal parking, danger to children, trash, entry on private land adjacent to the park and, in 1993, a petition signed by many of the neighbors to the east of the park. 26 In response, the old parking lot was closed and landscaped, the west end of Harold Street was made into a cul-de-sac. 27 (A new parking lot was built off Eastman Avenue when the park was expanded in 2007. 28)

In 1991 the school district floated the idea of using Farlin Park as the site for a new Nicolet School. The park department staff looked at possible configurations, concluding that the most feasible alternative appears to be to locate the school in the southeastern part of the park off of Farlin Avenue conditioned on the purchase of nine homes and lots off of Smith and Farlin Avenue. However, the staff did not favor pursuing the idea, noting that the recommended size for a combined school and park was 25 acres, while Farlin was (at the time) a very small-sized park, 8.3 acres with an irregular shape. In addition, the site was cut off on the west by active railroad tracks and the Green Bay Canning Company pickle vats making it an unappealing location for a school. 29


For many years Farlin Park was known for its proximity to the pickle factory, but with the new millenium came changes to the food industry, changes in ownership, and the closure of the eastside plant. On Thursday, September 22, 2005, the City of Green Bay finalized the purchase of the former Dean Foods Pickle Factory located adjacent to Farlin Park. 30 Alderman Chad Fradette, a proponent of the expansion, set up the Farlin Park Revitalization Committee with the goal to decide what type of park you want and how you want it laid out. 31

Fradette had raised the expansion idea to the city council the previous February, 32 and city staff had already been examining the possibility for some time. 33 Some of the negotiating tactics of both sides are visible in the record. In April, for example, Fradette wrote, I would like to start rezoning the pro[pe]rty to park to stop a potential sale. Residents flipped when I said they may sell it for storage units. 34 The city's negotiator replied, Just spoke with Dean Foods. … offered $78,000. … He didn't seem too excited. 35 By September of 2005, the two sides had agreed to a sale for $82,000. 36

There were nearly 300 brine vats on the property in addition to other structures. 37 After these had been removed, the land was graded and the distinctive hillocks constructed; this work began late in 2006 38 and continued the next summer. 39 The cost of this grading was about $66,000. 40 The new parking lot off Eastman Avenue was to be built around the same time the grading is completed. 41

A dog run was considered for the park as part of the expansion, but it was not approved or built. 42 The cost of a basic 1.6 acre dog park area was estimated at about $17,820 – or it could have cost up to $58,740 with all amenities. 43


1 Copy of letter from Norbert P. Quigley, Elmer Denesson Company, to Commissioner of Parks, dated March 20, 1939. Quigley proposed that if funds were not available (this was still the last part of the Depression) a land contract could be arranged. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
2 Letter from F.J. Euclide, Engr. Supt., to Mr. Meister, President, Park Board, dated September 11, 1951. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
3 Copy of ordinance, council meeting of January 2, 1952. The area so designated consisted of Lot 23 and 24, and all of Lots 29 and 30, except the South 175 feet thereof, Newberry's Addition. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
4 Appraisal letter from Frank Cartier, Frank Cartier Co., to Board of Park Commissioners, dated July 22, 1952; copy of letter from E.J. Perkins, President, Board of Park Commissioners, to Joseph DeGroot, dated April 22, 1953; blueprint Property of Mr. Joe DeGroot Proposed for Playground, undated; copy of resolution on June 10, 1952, by Board of Park Commissioners to approve purchase from both DeGroots; handwritten note Feb 16, '54, Recording Doc – #480910. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
5 Letter from Barbara Denesson DeGroot to Board of Park Commissioners, dated June 10, 1953; letter from Clarence Nier, City Attorney, to Board of Park Commissioners, dated November 2, 1953. (Barbara DeGroot was Joseph DeGroot's daughter-in-law.) PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
6 Appraisal letter from Frank Cartier, cited above. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
7 Copy of ordinance, dated March 17, 1953, giving authority to the Park Board to purchase the property. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
8 Copy of ordinance, dated March 17, 1953, cited above; draft of warranty deed, dated 5-14-53, with handwritten note, Register of Deeds Document #464866. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
9 Soil Test Reports (computer output) by State Soil Testing Laboratory, Marshfield, dated 12-04-80. There are 2 reports for 2 separate samples; the comment was attached to sample 1. PRF file Farlin Soils.
10 Copy of minutes of Park Committee, meeting of October 28, 1987. (Summary of remarks by Chet Miller.) PRF file Farlin Soils.
11 Copy of proposal from STS Consultants, Ltd., to Park & Recreation Department, dated June 18, 1984; undated draft test results. PRF file Farlin Soils.
12 Copy of minutes of Redevelopment Authority, meeting of 2-12-85. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
13 Letter from Alan W. Hopper, Vice President for Operations, Green Bay Food Company, to Jim Robertson, Park and Recreation Dept., dated July 29, 1985. PRF file Farlin Soils.
14 Copy of minutes of Park Committee, meeting of October 28, 1987, cited above; these remarks are confirmed by a copy of letter from Robert F. Antoine, President and General Manager, Green Bay Foods Company, Inc., dated July 11, 1986. PRF file Farlin Soils.
In the letter, Green Bay Foods agreed to guarantee the maximum amount of $77,700.00 to the City; this included contingencies. The actual amount paid to the contractor based on copies of checks from December 4, 1986, March 4, 1987, and July 9, 1987, was $75,450.86.
15 Letter from Clifford A. Centen, City Clerk, to Park Board, dated May 3, 1956, communicating the request of the council; copy of letter from Lloyd Linder, Vice President, Board of Park Commissioners, to Honorable Mayor and members of the Finance Committee, dated May 14, 1956. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
16 Letter from Centen to Park Board, dated May 17, 1956, conveying authority from the council to advertise for bids not to exceed $7,700; letter from Olive Ordenas, Deputy City Clerk, to Park Board, dated June 20, 1956, reporting that the council on June 19 had $7700 transferred to the project. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
17 Copy of memo from Board of Public Works to Mayor and Council, dated June 19, 1956, summarizing bids; copy of certified copy of resolution by Board of Park Commissioners, special meeting of June 19, 1956, authorizing $7669.75 for the construction of a shelter in Farlin Avenue Park. Nic Van Roy was low bidder at $6788; the larger number included sewer, water, and walkway construction. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
18 Copy of letter from M.G. Simonds, Superintendent of Parks, to Nic Van Roy, dated September 14, 1965; also another, dated October 31, 1956. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
19 Memo from Clifford Centen, City Clerk, to Board of Park Commissioners, dated July 6, 1960; attached request by Alderman Rhynie Dantinne; copy of letter from Vernon H. Krieser, Director of Parks and Recreation, to Mr. Joseph Foeller, Foeller Construction Company, Inc., dated May 18, 1961. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
20 Copy of letter from Michael Schoepp to Raphael Berken, dated March 7, 1974. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
21 Copy of letter from Chet Miller, Director, Parks & Recreation, to Ray Berken with a copy to Schoepp, dated April 4, 1974. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
22 Copy of letter from Vernon Krieser, Director of Parks and Recreation, to Adlerman Rhynie Dantinne, dated September 4, 1964. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
23 Copy of memo from Harold Compton, Alderman, to Mayor and Members of the Common Council, dated August 27, 1984. The word tabled is handwritten on the copy. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
24 PRF file Farlin Splashpad. [Documented with Seymour Park splashpad.]
25 Blueprint plan of park, dated July 1991. PRF file Farlin Parking Lot Problems.
26 Petition to Park Committee by 48 individuals, dated July 28, 1993. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
Copy of minutes of Park Committee meeting of August 10, 1993; also a copy of petition submitted. PRF file Farlin Parking Lot Problems.
27 Hand-drawn changes on the 1991 blueprint cited above, with hand-written note Final 10/26/93 on the back; see also Fradette's letter cited below. PRF file Farlin Parking Lot Problems.
28 PRF file Farlin Expansion – 2007 Parking Lot. See notes in the Park Expansion section for specific references.
29 Copy of letter from Chet Miller, Director, Park & Recreation Department, to Gerald Whitehouse, Green Bay Area Public School District, dated August 1, 1991. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
30 Letter from Alderman Chad Fradette addressed to Dear Community Volunteer, dated Thursday, September 22, 2005. PRF file Park Areas: Farlin Park.
31 Letter from Fradette of September 22, 2005, as cited above.
32 Copy of agenda for March 8, 2005, meeting of the Park Committee, item titled Council Communication From Ald. Fradette Re: Request To Pursue An Agreement With Dean Specialty Foods For Purchase Or Donation Of The Former Pickle Factory Property Adjacent To Farlin Park For Park Expanson. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Pickle Plant Purchase.
33 Plan view of park area dated June 3, 2003, with legend Possible Exp[a]nsion and the note entire park in flood plain; fax from Dan Ditsheit [PRF] to Rachel Ballast [Public Works], dated 2/27/05 requesting an integrated survey of the park and pickle factory property. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Pickle Plant Purchase.
34 Copy of email from Alderman Chad M. Fradette to Cheryl Reneir-Wigg, dated April 5, 2005, and included with the reply below. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Pickle Plant Purchase.
35 Copy of reply email from Cheryl Reneir-Wigg to Alderman Chad M. Fradette and Bill Landvatter, dated April 5, 2005. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Pickle Plant Purchase.
36 Copy of closing statement for purchase of 1442 Eastmans [sic] Avenue from Bay Valley Foods for $82,000.00, dated September 22, 2005; copy of check to Bay Valley Foods. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Pickle Plant Purchase.
37 Copy of aerial photo with expansion plan overlaid, undated. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Pickle Plant Purchase.
38 Copies of plan, dated August and September, 2006; copy of contract between Advance Construction Co. Inc. and the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Green Bay, dated October 17, 2006; notice to proceed, dated October 30, 2006. PRF file Farlin Expansion – 2006 Grading Contract.
The plans on file from 2006 included 15 hillocks but noted Size, shape, location, and quantity are approximate and subject to change.
39 Copy of email from Rachel Ballast [Public Works] to Cheryl Bougie [DNR], dated November 13, 2006, and outlining overwinter erosion protections; copy of notice to proceed from Edward E. Weisner, Director of Engineering, to Mark Seivert, Advance Construction Co. Inc., dated June 5, 2007. PRF file Farlin Expansion – 2006 Grading Contract.
40 Bid comparison, dated October 3, 2006, showing the winning bid by Advance Construction Co. Inc. was for $65,939.88. There appears to have been some increase in the scope of the contract beyond the grading, as the Application for Paymnet No. #4 - Final was not presented until January 23, 2009, and showed a total amount of $95,743,66. PRF file Farlin Expansion – 2006 Grading Contract.
41 Copy of email from Dan Ditsheit to Chris Reed, Stoss Landscape Urbanization (Boston), dated April 24, 2007; summary of bids dated April 24, 2007; coy of email from Dan Ditscheit [Park Department] to Rachel Ballast [Public Works], Brooke Kwaterski, and others, dated April 25, 2007, noting the low bidder for the parking lot was Northeast Asphalt at $57,786.05; copy of Application for Payment No. 2 - Final from Northeast Asphalt. PRF file Farlin Expansion – 2007 Parking Lot.
42 Hand-written note on file folder. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Dog Run.
43 Copy of fax from Dan Ditcheit to Chad Fradette, dated 11/20/06. PRF file Farlin Expansion – Dog Run.

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.
Last update: August, 2012.
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