Two BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) meetings set for April

March 29, 2016

Source: Milwaukee County Transit System

New Website Highlights Bus Rapid Transit Study and Project

Milwaukee County’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Feasibility Study is launching a new website and holding two initial public meetings. The website, EastWestBRT.com, includes background on the potential project, benefits of BRT, some common questions and answers, short videos showing what BRT could look like and the map of the potential routes that are being studied.

A major component of the Milwaukee County BRT study is public input. There are two initial public information meetings scheduled for mid-April:

  • Tuesday, April 12th5-7pm at the O’Donnell Park Miller Room (910 E. Michigan, Milwaukee)
  • Thursday, April 14th5-7pm at the Zoofari Conference Center (9715 W. Bluemound Road, Wauwatosa)

BRT is an increasingly popular approach in communities across the country to enhance public transportation services, reduce traffic congestion, improve mobility and increase transit ridership. BRT systems feature specialized buses that stop less often and travel in dedicated lanes (see the pictures below for examples). BRT offers faster travel times than local service and many riders find it less expensive and more convenient than driving. Because BRT is more frequent than local service, it improves access to jobs, health care, education and other essentials of daily life for people across the community.

BRT projects can also support and spur economic development.  While dependent on local conditions, Transit Oriented Development (TOD) following public investment on BRT projects in other communities have ranged from $100 million to $5.8 billion.

People who cannot make the public meetings but would like to provide input can send an email to contact@eastwestbrt.com

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TRAFFIC ALERT: CNN GOP Town Hall Meeting in Downtown Milwaukee March 29

March 28, 2016

Source: Dept. of Public Works press release
The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is partnering with the Department of Public Works (DPW) and
other local stakeholders to inform Downtown Milwaukee residents, visitors and workers of traffic and
pedestrian impacts due to the GOP town hall meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at the Riverside
Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave.
The public should be aware of the following, as traffic patterns will affect downtown activities and the Tuesday
evening commute:
  •  Beginning at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, March 29, North Plankinton Avenue will be closed to vehicular
and pedestrian traffic between West Michigan and W. Wells Street
  • ? Also beginning at 12:00 noon, East/West Wisconsin Avenue from North Water Street over the
Milwaukee River to North 2nd Street will closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic
  • ? Vehicles still parked on these streets will be cited and towed.
The CNN GOP town hall event is a ticketed event, is sold out, and only those with tickets may enter the event.
If your Tuesday evening plans include attending other various downtown events, such as the Milwaukee
Admirals game or theater performances, please take notice of these street/sidewalk closures, and that parking
will be in high demand. Plan ahead by allowing extra travel time, be prepared to walk several blocks to your
events, or use public transportation.
MPD will have extra officers in the area to ensure safety and security, and to assist the public during the town
hall event.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper files third lawsuit against Milwaukee County in continued effort to remove Estabrook Dam

March 21, 2016

Source: Milwaukee Riverkeeper press release

Lawsuit challenges County’s appropriation of public funds for a private purpose

On Monday, March 21, 2016, Milwaukee Riverkeeper filed a third lawsuit against Milwaukee County as part of an on-going, 10-year effort to remove the Estabrook Dam. The lawsuit challenges the appropriation of public funds by the County to repair the Estabrook Dam for a private purpose.

Milwaukee County is using public funds to repair the Estabrook Dam and create an impoundment – a large pool of water upstream from the Dam – so that a select group of private riparian property owners can use the impoundment for motorized boating and other private recreational activities and uses.  There is no public benefit that will be achieved through the repair of the Dam.  Absent a public benefit, the costs for repair of the Dam, because it provides a private benefit for upstream private property owners, should be funded through the imposition of a special assessment upon those benefitted private property owners.

However, removal of the Dam is better for the health of the Milwaukee River, is the cheapest option, and will also lower the risk of flooding upstream from the Dam, which confers a larger benefit to a larger number of citizens.  There are nearly 300 residences in the 100-year floodplain that would benefit from dam removal.

“If repaired, Milwaukee County residents will be footing the bill for this structure for the next 20 years, and maybe even beyond that, for the benefit of a few homeowners.  With such a high price tag, we need to make sure that this is a project that truly benefits the public and the taxpayer.  So far, repair plans have shown that a few homeowners will benefit from use of the resulting impoundment recreationally, yet Milwaukee County has yet to demonstrate how the public will realistically be able to access and use the impoundment with motor boats.  We continue to believe the best decision for all Milwaukee County residents is to remove the Estabrook Dam,” said Cheryl Nenn, Riverkeeper at Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

The current proposal to repair the Dam will cost county taxpayers more than $6 million.  This figure includes yearly operations and maintenance for the 20 year expected lifetime of the Dam should it be repaired, which is estimated to cost Milwaukee County taxpayers at least $160,000 per year.  If the Dam is repaired, the County will likely face additional costs of dredging in the next 10 years that could add up to more than $2 million.  After 20 years, the Dam would need to be removed and possibly rebuilt, again, at great additional cost to Milwaukee County taxpayers.  Dam removal is estimated at $1.7 million or a third of the cost of dam repair.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is holding a public hearing on March 22, 2016 at Glen Hills Middle School in Glendale at 6:00 pm regarding its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Milwaukee County’s plans to repair the Dam.  The doors will open at 5:30 pm.  The public comment period on the draft EIS will continue through April 6, 2016 at 4:30 pm.  The draft EIS can be found at dnr.wi.gov/topic/eia/estabrook.html.

 


Milwaukee County Board approves redistricting reform proposal

March 17, 2016

Source: Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors press release

A resolution and ordinance change sponsored by Supervisor Steve F. Taylor that will reform the way that Milwaukee County draws its supervisory districts was approved by the County Board on Thursday, 15-2. Taylor’s plan depoliticizes the redistricting process, transferring that power from the hands of lawmakers to an Independent Redistricting Committee. The committee will be comprised of six retired judges, appointed and confirmed by the County Board. A panel of community stakeholders from local universities and public interest and policy groups would provide feedback about the appointees prior to their confirmation.

“I am pleased with the Board’s decision to come together to support this initiative. This is a win for Milwaukee County residents interested in transparent and open government,” said Taylor. “Simply put, this ordinance is a mechanism for good government. I look forward to watching this process unfold in the future.”

Milwaukee County’s next required redistricting process will occur in 2020, following the federal decennial census.


O’Donnell property agreement with the Milwaukee Art Museum is win/win

March 8, 2016

Source: Milwaukee County Board press release

Today, Milwaukee Art Museum officials along with the Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors announced an agreement regarding the sale of O’Donnell Plaza with retention of land/park rights for the public.  At the same time, Northwestern Mutual has updated the beautiful planning for their proposed tower at 777 N. Van Buren Street which will include an active ground level space.  I wish them great success.

In late 2015, not satisfied with the plan negotiated by the County Executive, the County Board chose to reimagine the O’Donnell plaza and garage proposal.  This new agreement with the creative sharing of public/private assets by the county and the Milwaukee Art Museum under a 501c3 structure will allow the museum to steer its own course as an art museum but with continued county assistance. Thereby, retaining public ownership of the land originally documented lake bed / public trust property and retain a public plaza with potential for a reinvigorated space planned by the Art Museum, and will relieve the public of long-term deferred maintenance support while permitting the museum a source of parking revenue that will allow it to pay for improvements and repair.

“The public, given its interest in open space along our lakefront and retention of a legacy park that had been preserved for generations in the original Juneau Park, is the real winner in this agreement,” opined Supervisor Patricia Jursik, a member of the Milwaukee Art Museum Board and a leader among the board that demanded a renegotiation of the O’Donnell garage sale.  “I am glad the public won in so many ways:  preservation of our park and lakefront land, a wonderful new project by a leading corporate business and the potential for spectacular plans where the sky is the limit: sculpture gardens, hanging gardens, world-class art, who knows, but with the Milwaukee Art Museum leading the way, it will be spectacular.

“Thank you to the Working Group of Ken Krei, Sheldon Lubar, Kent Velde, Bruce McDonald and Donald Baumgartner and Dan Keegan, our intrepid MAM director. Thank you to County Executive Chris Abele and Teig Whaley-Smith for working on a re-imagined agreement and finally to our former Board Chair, Marina Dimitrijevic and current Board Chair Theo Lipscomb and Parks Committee Chair Gerry Broderick.  You have all done a great service for Milwaukee County.  As a member of the Finance Committee, I look forward to reviewing the full agreement on Thursday, March 10 at the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee, and I will look forward to also representing MAM as their liaison Supervisor. I encourage all of our Board to work positively to make this a reality.”


County Sup. Taylor reacts to committee’s vote to fund Marcus Center

March 8, 2016

Source: Milwaukee County Board press release

Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve F. Taylor today expressed his disappointment with the Parks, Energy and Environment Committee’s 5-1 vote (Taylor: no) to support the execution of a contribution agreement between Milwaukee County and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. This vote comes in light of an anticipated takeover of the facility by the Wisconsin Center District pursuant to 2015 Wisconsin Act 60. The law provides state funding for the Bucks arena project, as well as allowing for the consolidation of the Marcus Center with the new arena under the Wisconsin Center District

The committee agreed to support the 10-year, multi-million dollar agreement, which provides funding for the Marcus Center’s operational and capital needs.

“This decision flies in the face of the principles of the good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Why should County taxpayers fund improvements to the Marcus Center for another decade when we already know it will likely be under new ownership in just a few years?” said Taylor.

Supervisor Taylor also expressed his frustration with County Executive Chris Abele’s role in the anticipated transfer of the Marcus Center. “This is just another example of the County Executive’s poor negotiating skills,” said Taylor. “Not only are County taxpayers on the hook for $80 million for the arena, but he also agreed to the transfer of the Marcus Center without a clear timetable.”

The full County Board will consider the contribution agreement at its next meeting on March 17.

 


New information confirms Great Lakes Water unnecessary for Waukesha 

March 8, 2016

 Source: Compact Implementation Coalition press release

Updated report reaffirms sustainable alternative to Great Lakes water

New information confirms the City of Waukesha is able to sustainably provide its residents with ample, clean drinking water now and into the future using a combination of shallow and deep groundwater wells. Waukesha is the first to apply for Great Lakes water under a narrowly defined exception to the ban on diversions in the Great Lakes Compact, which was signed into federal law in 2008.

Last summer, the Compact Implementation Coalition (CIC), a group of local, state and regional environmental organizations, submitted a detailed analysis to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) outlining how Waukesha could meet its current and future water needs without taking water from Lake Michigan. The WDNR considered the Non-Diversion Solution (NDS) and asked the City of Waukesha to complete additional analysis regarding the sustainability of the deep groundwater aquifer.

“It was good to know the WDNR reviewed the Non-Diversion Solution, but it does not seem that they did so in earnest. Our intent in preparing the Non-Diversion Solution, was to provide the WDNR and the City of Waukesha with a foundation to begin a genuine analysis of its reasonable water supply alternatives which we do not believe they have done,” said Jennifer Bolger Breceda from Milwaukee Riverkeeper.  “Now, we’re relying on the Regional Body and Compact Council to take a more comprehensive look at the Non-Diversion Solution and the viable alternatives Waukesha has.”

The new report, written by GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., provides new information on the cost and sustainability of treatment options, which directly answer the questions the WDNR asked regarding the initial analysis. This new information reaffirms that Waukesha does not need a Great Lakes diversion to meet its current needs. The CIC will submit this new information along with formal comments to the Regional Body and Compact Council.

The new information finds:  

  • Instead of letting wells fail as a justification for requesting Great Lakes water, Waukesha should invest in the operation and maintenance of its current infrastructure and replace the well to regain its historic capacity. It’s important to note that the underperformance of this well was not included in the city’s original application, but included as supplemental material after the Wisconsin public comment period ended in August.
  • Waukesha should evaluate the treatment technology it’s neighbors in Brookfield and Pewaukee use, which does not produce the same problematic radioactive waste or affect the total amount of water needing to be pumped from the deep aquifer. The treatment technology is adaptable and can be scaled to fit small and large systems, including Waukesha’s. In Waukesha’s case, the city could use the technology on six individual deep water wells in combination with their current treatment technology on one well. It’s important to note that the only reason the CIC’s NDS included the use of reverse osmosis is because this is the technology Waukesha included in its application as its preferred treatment alternative. Moreover, the challenges of disposing of the waste are surmountable engineering issues and technologically and economically viable options do exist.
  • Waukesha should evaluate the sustainability of deep aquifer use in the area by using Waukesha’s actual historic water use to predict its future water use. Based on its past water use, Waukesha’s future water use should continue to decline even with population growth and Waukesha’s planned conservation efforts, which could be expanded for even greater water savings. Evaluating the sustainability of the deep aquifer should be done with actual data, not unsubstantiated future water use.

“When an option so commonsense as replacing a well that is underperforming isn’t considered part of a reasonable alternative, it’s difficult to believe that the alternatives Waukesha evaluates in its application were considered in any sort of good-faith effort,” said Ezra Meyer from Clean Wisconsin. “At the very least, the Non-Diversion Solution should show the Regional Body and Compact Council that Waukesha has not demonstrated that it has exhausted all its alternatives to Great Lakes water as the Great Lakes Compact requires. But more than that, we believe the Non-Diversion Solution is a way forward, not just for the City of Waukesha, but for the region as a whole to conserve and protect our Great Lakes for future generations.” 

By adding appropriate treatment technology, investing in and properly maintaining its current infrastructure, and implementing responsible conservation measures, the City of Waukesha can sustainably supply its residents with clean drinking water using its existing groundwater sources. The Non-Diversion Solution continues to represent the most cost-effective and technically feasible alternative to meet the existing and future water supply demands for the City of Waukesha.

This new report can be found here, and the original Non-Diversion Solution can be found here.


Candidate Interviews: District 14

March 1, 2016

Bay View Compass Staff

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor Race, Jason Haas, Incumbent

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor Race, Franz Meyer, Challenger

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Aldermanic District Race, Meagan Holman, Challenger

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW — District 14 Aldermanic District Race, Tony Zielinski, Incumbent

 


Frolics Parade up in the air—again

March 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

After an earnest beginning to its effort to bring back a parade during the 2016 South Shore Frolics festival, Sonia Hass and her group have called it quits.

Disappointed that the Bay View Lions canceled the parade last year due to insufficient funds, Hass and others created a committee, independent of the Lions,  to find sponsorships for the 2016 parade. To pay for city permits, barricades, and parade fees, the group needed to raise $20,000, which proved impossible, Hass said.

She attributed the committee’s inability to find a fiscal agent as the key factor behind the group’s failure to secure funding. Because her group was not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, sponsors’ donations would not have been tax-deductible. Had she been able to funnel the sponsorship money through a nonprofit acting as her fiscal agent, donations would have been deductible.

Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) president Lee Barczak said the BID decided not to get involved with the parade this year, but he thought that it may in the future. He said that BID board members are occupied with a large streetscaping project, its priority this year. He didn’t rule out the BID’s future parade involvement, however. “I can assure you, if BID businesses get involved, people would be intrigued with what could result,” he said, alluding to the creativity and resourcefulness of business owners in the BID.

Speaking on behalf of the Bay View Lions who sponsor and stage the annual South Shore Frolics, Lyn Graziano said the Lions are still actively working on finding funding for a parade this summer. Bay View Lions Club member Les Johns recently took up the quest to secure sponsorships.

After the Lions canceled the parade in  2008, Johns rescued it  when he persuaded Todd Reardon of the Braeger Automotive Group to donate $20,000.

Johns said that he’s currently waiting for responses from some “major corporations” that he was unwilling to name. He said he was somewhat optimistic but noted that finding parade funding is far more difficult today.

In the past the Lions relied on sponsorships from large companies like Jewel Osco, Pick ’n Save, and Braeger Automotive. Corporate mergers and ownership changes put an end to those. “The new owners didn’t see the bang for their dollar,” Johns said. “The economy is still pretty rough in Milwaukee. It used to be a lot easier to get money 20 years ago.”

“I’m pretty confident in Les’s ability to raise money,” Graziano said. “If we can raise the money, we’ll do the parade.”

In addition to 2008, the South Shore Frolics Parade was canceled in 2012.

The Lions canceled the parade again in 2013. Bay View resident Patty Pritchard Thompson, who volunteered to help the Lions, secured sponsorship funding for the parade that year and again in 2014.