Muskego park's name centers itself on site's history
'Muskego Center' harkens back to its trolley stop days
Muskego — A tiny city park on Pioneer Drive where the Muskego Town Hall once stood and was one of the first things early visitors saw when they stepped off the trolley from Milwaukee will now be known as Muskego Center Park.
Muskego Center was the designation of the trolley stop where visitors got off to check in at one of the little community's hotels before enjoying the water sports and area had to offer.
The city's Parks and Recreation Board picked the name last week and asked the Muskego Historical Society to confirm how "center" was spelled in those days. The park name will be spelled the same way. (Concidentally, the shopping mall anchored by Piggly Wiggly on Racine Avenue is also called Muskego Centre, with the more uncommon spelling.)
The park is beside Marx Pioneer Inn, S7808 Pioneer Drive, and across the street from Horn Bros. Inc., S7725 Pioneer Drive.
Although it is mostly grass, people can sit on a bench overlooking Pilak Creek, which flows underneath Janesville Road. The Town Hall itself has been moved to the Old Settlement Centre, S8074 Racine Ave.
The community was invited to suggest names for the little park. The city received four suggestions: Trolley Line Park, Gottfried Park, Salentine Family Community Park and Serenity Park.
Muskego native Terrence Chmiel was thinking along the same lines as the Parks Board when he suggested the name Trolley Line Park.
"Trolley Line Park would make people aware of some of the history of Muskego," he wrote in his nomination.
Gottfried Park was suggested by Gill and Jane Ann Spieler, who said the name would pay tribute to the city's first mayor Jerome Gottfried, who also lived on Pioneer Drive.
"He did a great deal to grow our community with his years of service," they wrote.
Jerome Gottfried was the owner and operator of Jerome Drugs, starting in 1953. He served as Muskego mayor for more than 20 years and was involved with many civic organizations, according to information from the Muskego Historical Society. He died in 2004 at age 79.
For a Muskego family
Fearing that the contributions the Salentine family has made to the community will be lost from memory with the closing of the Salentine car dealership, Cindy Salentine suggested the Salentine Family Community Park or E.J. Salentine Parkway to preserve awareness of the family she married into.
"A park would truly be a great way to preserve the name of true historic pillars of the community," Salentine wrote.
She noted that S.J. Salentine was the founder of the Tess Corners Fire Department, its first chief and a 25-year volunteer; E.J. Salentine was its chief and 44-year volunteer; and Scott Salentine is currently an officer and has volunteered 30 years to the community along with two of his sisters, Mary (16 years) and Debbie (25 years).
"All together the Salentine family has volunteered 140 years of service to the fire department. They have truly dedicated their lives to saving the lives of others," Cindy Salentine wrote.
The Salentines also gave the Muskego food pantry its first home and have supported the Scouts, the anti-drug D.A.R.E. program, driver education, local football and baseball teams, auto mechanics training at Muskego High School, she noted.
Salentine also noted that the rest of the family didn't know about the nomination.
Serenity Park was the suggestion of Muskego native Lyn Wiczek.
"If you take a little time out of your day in any season and sit on one of the benches and just listen to the trickling sound of the creek, you'll enjoy the serenity of the park, off the beaten track of our busy city," Wiczek wrote. "My husband Jack and I love this little park."
— Jane Ford-Stewart
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