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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As the Milwaukee Bucks' new arena takes form downtown, the team is now looking to put $750,000 toward a project of a different kind.
The Bucks, in conjunction with partner Johnson Controls, will construct a $150,000 "multi-sport complex" at Milwaukee Public Schools' Browning Elementary School and the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, both in Westlawn, on the northwest side of the city.
The team and Johnson Controls will also donate $60,000 annually for the next 10 years toward community programming at Browning and Silver Spring.
"Our partners at Johnson Controls share our vision for the future of Milwaukee and our commitment to ensuring the impact of our downtown development radiates throughout the community," Bucks President Peter Feigin said in a statement, noting the importance of providing a safe haven for youth in the community.
The complex will feature several sports courts and fields and a 200-meter track. Construction is scheduled to be complete before the start of the fall semester.
Currently, the spot for the intended complex is occupied by a concrete lot at Browning Elementary, which is adjacent to the Westlawn public housing complex.
Over 95% of the school's students are economically disadvantaged. Recent test scores show that Browning students are well below MPS averages: only 6% of the school's elementary students test at grade-level math, compared to 15% of MPS elementary students. In English/language arts, 12% of Browning students are on grade level, compared to a district average of 19%.
The new Bucks-backed complex will join other recent revitalization efforts in the neighborhood, including a $30 million federal grant the city received in 2015 to raze and replace nearly 400 units at Westlawn.
"Ensuring that all children have top-notch recreational facilities not only provides a safe outlet for young people, it also reinforces to them that they are a vital part of the future of our city and worth the investment of the time and resources that are necessary for the construction of this multi-sport complex," MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver said in a prepared statement.
The Bucks' unveiling of community service follows years of community pressure.
During a hearing held by the Milwaukee Common Council in 2015, the nonprofit coalition Southeastern Wisconsin Common Ground called for council members to vote against the use of public funds toward the Bucks arena.
The council eventually approved a $47 million spending plan for construction, part of $250 million of public funds signed off by Gov. Scott Walker toward the cost of the $500 million stadium.
Common Ground has since advocated for $150 million of public funds to be used to improve MPS athletic facilities and recreational spaces.
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