Journey House plans Baran Park renovation, job training program

Organization proposes $2.8 million baseball field improvement project

A Felix Mantilla Little League player slides toward home plate during a game in the summer of 2015.

Milwaukee-based non-profit organization Journey House would oversee a $2.8 million improvement project and establish a new job training program at a park on the city’s south side, under a management agreement set for Milwaukee County Board approval next week.

A Felix Mantilla Little League player slides toward home plate during a game in the summer of 2015.

Journey House, which helps families move out of poverty through education, youth development and workforce readiness programs, is raising funds to improve Baran Park’s baseball field infrastructure and establish a workforce development program that would be based at the park at 2600 S. Chase Ave., according to plans submitted to the county board.

Under the proposal, Journey House would install three new regulation baseball diamonds, a tee-ball diamond and a new concession pavilion.

Journey House also has plans to establish a career intern training and job placement program at the park that will focus on sports turf and landscaping training, as well as hospitality and culinary arts training. A dozen jobs are expected to be created as a result of the program, according to county board documents.

Journey House plans to fund the project by raising $1.8 million in private donations and securing $1 million in funding from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

John Dargle, parks director for Milwaukee County, said the department has been in discussion with Journey House for more than a year regarding the facilities at Baran Park, which currently hosts the organization’s Felix Mantilla Little League.

The organization has partnered with the county since 2012 on the installation and management of the Packers football field in Mitchell Park. The proposed 30-year management agreement for Baran Park is patterned after the one for Mitchell Park.

The county would save $144,127 in capital replacement costs at Baran Park, and avoid an operating loss of about $32,000 each year under the proposed management agreement, according to county board documents.

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