Greendale DPW – 75 Years of Polishing the Jewel!
Week#49: The Department of Public Works keeps Greendale ‘Still Sparkling After All These Years’. Anthony ‘Bud’ Konsitzke served the longest in this extraordinary Village Department.
History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.
History and Folklore!
At the most recent Greendale Village Board meeting, Village President John Hermes commended all of the Departments for their efforts and said the Village was “looking tall” during the recent Village Days weekend. This sentiment was echoed by the entire Board of Trustees. We sometimes take for granted the beauty of Greendale and the way the Village services run smoothly for the enjoyment of all the residents. We get to do that because the employees of the Village Departments don’t just do what their job requires, they put their spirit into their duties. One department in particular, the Department of Public Works, makes sure that Greendale’s title of ‘The Garden Community’ is not just a slogan.
The design of the Village of Greendale was done by Elbert Peets in 1936 (Week#59) following the concepts of the Garden City Movement. ‘Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by "greenbelts" (parks), containing proportionate areas of residences, industry and agriculture.’ From the very beginning the Greendale Department of Public Works (DPW) has worked to maintain this design. And the residents of Greendale have also done their part. The Greendale Garden Gazing Club promotes the efforts of homeowners who beautify their properties, the landscaping crew of Grandhaven keeps the Village Center looking spectacular with the help of the Weed Out Warriors (Week#56), and the Park People attack the invasive plants in the spring and the fall each year. But this week’s story belongs to the dedicated staff of the DPW.
I sat down with the Director of Public Works, Robert ‘Robby’ McFaul this week and asked him to tell me what his department is responsible for, and more importantly what it does. I was amazed. The first thing he told me was that “Greendale is one of the few communities that maintains green space”. The floral display on 76th Street around the Welcome to Greendale sign, the Village Hall grounds, the small areas at intersections like Southway and Broad Street , and many, many more are maintained by his department. With the hot weather this summer keeping all of these areas flowering and green had to take an extra effort. But that’s just the start.
Greendale DPW maintains the ball fields and playgrounds (i.e. College Park, Lions Park, Community Center, and Daffodil Park) except those on school property. Their forestry crew trims and plants trees. In response to the threat of the Emerald ash borer they are replacing approximate 100 trees each year with different species. The Emerald ash borer has not been detected yet in Greendale, and now may not get a chance to ‘eat’ our trees due to this replacement program. In case you’re interested, you can purchase a tree for $100 to $150 that will be planted in someone’s name, and the name will be on a plaque at Village Hall. That would be a nice memorial for someone special.
They also maintain the sixty miles of roads in Greendale by filling pot holes, patching bad areas, and recommending streets for the annual street repayment program. Unless you’re one of those lucky car drivers that never has to leave Greendale, you know that the roads outside Greendale are a car repair shops best friend. Road work also includes the snow plowing, street sign replacement, leaf pickup, water main breaks, street lamp repair and replacement, hydrant flushing, and storm sewer maintenance. All of this work makes driving safer and more pleasant. You know when you're not in Greendale anymore by driving through the roads.
Of course one cannot forget garbage pickup. That’s something you can set your watch on in Greendale. A funny coincidence was that this week was Director Robby’s 30th anniversary with the Greendale DPW, and he started in garbage. He is proud to tell everyone that he and those that followed him on the trucks have never missed one day of garbage pickup in the past 30 years. Also, Greendale’s dump is the only one is Milwaukee County that is open six days a week. And it is a busy place. If you haven’t seen someone in a while, you could either call them on the phone or hang out at the dump. You’re bound to connect with them either way. A nice bonus to the dump is that the leaves picked up in the fall are turned into mulch and is available to citizens in the spring for use in their personal garden. After all, this is the ‘Garden Community’.
Finally, for public celebrations the Greendale DPW puts up decorations (i.e. Christmas wreathes, flags, bunting on the Gazebo, Village Hall decorations), sets up barricades to control vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and picks up trash. (And parade participation! At this year’s Village Days parade, the 75th Celebration Committee had the honor of leading the DPW street sweeper at the end of the parade. You know, where the horse apples get picked up.)
When visitors come to Greendale they are amazed at the beauty of the Village, in every season. That does not happen by accident. The employees of the Greendale Department of Public Works take pride in how the Village looks. We have come to expect this from them, but we should not take it for granted. When you see one of them picking up your garbage, watering flowers, hanging decorations, or repairing a street, take a moment to say thanks. They deserve the appreciation. Greendale’s 75th Diamond Celebration is coming up in 2013. The Greendale Department of Public Works has made sure Greendale is ‘Still Sparking After All These Years’.
Editor’s note: To complete this story, I asked Robby to email me a few pictures of his department at work in the village. OMG. For two days every time I opened my email I was downloading picture after amazing picture. Robby loves this Village and captures scenes that are worthy of an artist showing. Happy 30th Anniversary Robby, and thanks for everything your department does.
Greendale Department of Public Works: Ryan Silkey, Dustin Hoeffler, Chris Kraase, Steve Inman, Jeff Stencel, Shawn Cortez, Rod Damask, Brian Kroenke, Ryan Machajewski, Brian Knapp, Kyle Stasik, Craig Bennett, Jason Matlock, Mechanic: Chris Kasprzak, Administration: Michelle Kasprzak and Public Works Director Robert McFaul
But did you know?
It was a ‘rite of passage’ for any youth growing up in Greendale to have climbed the water tower. The list of kids (now adults) who have confessed to climbing the tower makes me wonder if there was a waiting line at times stretching down the hill. Sherry Konsitzke, Colleen Glynn, Chuck Konsitzke and many more have already been finger printed (just kidding). Chuck and three of his friends not only climbed the tower but spray painted ^%$#&!+ on it. They got caught and had to do community service. Two thoughts come to mind. First, how long did it take the Village to decide that climbing the water tower was not a good idea and make the ladder inaccessible to brazen youth? Second, since the parents in Greendale reputedly always found out what mischief their kids were up to, did they think it was OK to climb the tower ... multiple times?
People, Past & Present!
The headline of a column in the December, 1975 Village Life read ‘Last Fire Officer Leaves Department’. It reported that Capt. Anthony ‘Bud’ Konsitzke joined the paid-on-call fire fighting force in 1942 and was retiring after 33 years of service. Paid-on-call officers were citizen volunteers, getting paid only per fire call. Upon his retirement all future fire officers were to be full time members of the force. Sticking with something he loved to do was common for Bud. He retired from the Greendale Department of Public Works in 1985 after 40+ years of service. He was 71 years of age at the time. Unfortunately, Bud passed after shortly after retirement, but what stories he could have told.
Anthony Konsitzke was born in 1914, but we don’t pick up his story until he and Mary Jane married in 1939. He was working for Harnischfeger Industries in West Allis when they decided to rent in the new community of Greendale. Their first original was at 5919 Dale Ln. which was 2 bedrooms, and later they moved to 6700 Conifer Ln. which was a 3 bedroom original. Suzy was their first child, born in 1941, and in the years following came Sally (GHS Class of 60), Sandy (Class of 62), Chuck (Class of 67), Sherry (Class of 71) and Tom. All the Konsitzke kids went to grade school at St. Al’s. As a side note, Sally remembers going to mass on Municipal Square in the original that Fr. Spangler rented before St. Al’s was built. Once the rental units were up for sale, the Konsitzke family purchased theirs and lived there for the rest of their lives.
We know that Bud joined the volunteer paid-on-call fire fighters in 1942 and eventually was promoted to captain. What year he started with the Department of Public Works is not certain. The government still owned and operated Greendale during the 40’s and those records were taken back to Washington when Greendale was sold to the Milwaukee Community Development Corporation in 1953. We do know that one of his early jobs was operating the boiler room at the old Fire & Police Station. There are also a few pictures of him working and playing, one in front of the Village Center, one in his Fire uniform, and one of him participating in the 4th of July Fire Department water demonstrations. The rest of what we know of Bud and Mary Jane comes from three of their children, Sally, Chuck and Sherry whom I had the pleasure to meet with recently and listen to them reminisce about their parents and growing up in Greendale.
Mary Jane was apparently the local card shark. Chuck, Doug Ceranske, Pat Chartier and Tom Zizzo would play sheepshead for hours with Mom as the instructor. Chuck also remembers the ‘mom’ made casseroles and soups, cooked in her old kettle that he and his buddies would eat for days. Then there was the monthly steak (i.e. round steak beaten with a spiked hammer until it was 4 foot by 4 foot by 1/8 in thick). Christmas was made extra special by Mary Jane, having the kids help deck the house and getting them all dressed up. Special memories are stringing popcorn as a family and decorating the tree. Chuck believes his mom could have been a professional tennis player, “as she had an awesome backhand as she broke a few wooden spoons on me”.
Sally was apparently Dad’s favorite, and she had to be considering her adventures. Rule #1 was that they were not allowed in anyone’s car until they were 18 years old. Bud had responded to an accident that was a teenage fatality on Hwy 36 (which was 2 lanes at the time) and did not want them to suffer a similar fate. Rule #2 was that all the kids had to be in the yard or house when the street lights went on. Wherever they were at the time he would yell their names and they would rush home. However, Sally tells of sneaking out, getting picked up by friends, hiding on the floor boards of the car, and going to the surrounding communities for some fun. The next day her dad would always know where she went and what she did. But as with all chosen ones she is still alive today to tell about it. Nobody said life was fair.
Sherry remembers the family breakfast, with mom and dad hitting wooden spoons on the banister leading up to the bedrooms calling them to get up. The cereal bowls would be set out and the daily vitamins would be in the spoons. (Note: Their parents must have had a thing for wooden spoons, as another use she recalls was to administer a few slaps on the butt as required.) Another exciting day was Easter, getting a new dress (but not Chuck and Tom I assume), going to mass at St. Al’s, and afterwards having hot ham from Helen Mae’s Delicatessen and hot butter crust rolls from Bombergs Bakery. While it is my practice not to say anything bad about anyone, Sherry wanted me specifically to know that they remember playing ball on the street and “Mrs. Repp and Mr. Gullnick our neighbors on Conifer and Dales Lanes ALWAYS steal our balls!! We just knew they had hundreds over the years!” Really Sherry?
I could go on and on with the stories Sally, Chuck and Sherry told me, but I want to conclude with something Chuck said that really resonated with me. He said that the entire community was your family, because of the kids. All the kids were outside all the time playing, with the Tschanz kids, the Kuglitsch kids, the Weber kids, the Glynn kids, the Bozich and Durante kids. Greendale was designed to be family oriented, and the parents created an environment to nurture that but the kids were the glue that bound everyone together. One thing is for sure, Bud and Mary Jane Konsitzke’s kids sure have wonderful memories of growing up in Greendale.
Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:
Week#50 Answer – The longest serving employee of the Greendale Department of Public Works is Anthony ‘Bud’ Konsitzke. Records from the time that the Government owned Greendale are kept in Washington DC, so his start date is not exactly known. However, Bud worked for some 40 plus years, starting in the early 1940’s and retiring in 1985.
Week#49 Question – Would you believe you could once hear the buzz of airplanes in Greendale? Where did the planes come from and why?
** Week 49 contributors Sally Chadwick, Wikipedia, Greendale Village Life, Robert McFaul, Sally, Chuck and Sherry Konsitzke.