Mitchell Park Domes Closed For Safety Concerns

Milwaukee's famous Mitchell Park Domes are indefinitely closed. The Arid Dome was closed on January 29 after pieces of concrete fell from the dome. The other domes closed on February 5 as a safety measure while county officials wait for details of how expensive repairs might be. (The geometric framework is based on cast concrete.) Deterioration of the concrete framework was caused by moisture, humidity, and changes in temperature, all enhanced by the age of the structures.

The domes were built in stages between 1959 and 1967, with Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States, attending the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"If the domes strike you as unusual, it's because they are," County Executive Chris Abele said in a press conference. Preliminary reports show that temporary repairs to reopen the domes could take three to six months and cost anywhere from $450,000 to $900,000. The repairs would consist of wrapping suspect nodes with a nylon material to prevent concrete from falling.

The long term solution would include rebuilding the domes. Estimates place the cost upward of $75 million, according to an engineering report.

The problems in the county owned structures were quickly politicized. 2016 is an election year for the position of county executive between incumbent Chris Abele and challenger Chris Larson.

The Friends of the Domes launched a Go Fund Me - Save the Domes account to generate donations for the restoration of one of Milwaukee's most famous icons.

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