Excessive heat health watch issued by Milwaukee Health Dept.

July 19, 2016

City of Milwaukee Health Department Issues Excessive Heat Health Watch

Residents advised to take precautions during hot weather conditions

The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch beginning Thursday and ending Friday. In conjunction with this Watch, the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) has issued an Excessive Heat Health Watch.

The forecast indicates a maximum heat index value of  100 to 110 Thursday and 95 to 103 Friday, creating potentially deadly conditions, especially for those most susceptible to heat-related illness such as the elderly, very young, and those with chronic underlying conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular, respiratory, or mental health illness.

During extreme heat conditions, the MHD advises citizens take the following precautions:

Stay Cool

  • Slow down. limit physical activity, and try to spend part of the day in air-conditioned spaces such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or libraries
  • Never leave children or pets in a parked car – temperatures can become life-threatening within minutes
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
  • Take cool baths or showers and use wet towels on your skin to help you cool down

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day regardless of thirst
  • Avoid consuming caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as these can increase heat effects

Stay Informed

  • Check local news and weather reports for extreme heat alerts and safety tips
  • Watch for symptoms of heat-related illness such as dizziness, nausea, headache, or fainting
  • Check on relatives, friends, or neighbors, especially those most susceptible to heat-related illness, which includes the very young, the elderly, and those on certain medications (especially certain medications related to blood pressure, heart disease, and mental health).

The MHD will be enhancing surveillance for heat-related illness in the coming days, and working with Milwaukee Heat Task Force partners to address vulnerable population needs during this period. Additional heat safety tips and information are available at www.milwaukee.gov/hotweathersafety



Free Pokémon Go event in Mitchell Park July 23

July 15, 2016

PokeNicParks-GraphicWhile Pokémon are showing up at locations throughout the metro area, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced that the Parks Department will offer a PokéNic, a free Pokémon-themed event, July 23, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Mitchell Park, 524 S. Layton Blvd.

The event lets families play the “augmented reality” game Pokémon Go—the top free smartphone app—and participate in a variety of picnic-type activities with a Pokémon twist.

Groups will use their own smart phones to chase and catch virtual Pokémon characters that pop up on their screens. Just outside The Domes are eight PokéStops for players to stock up on free, virtual supplies, such as Pokéballs, which are used to catch and store the characters. To be sure there will be plenty of Pokémon in front of The Domes and the nearby sunken garden area, lure modules will be launched every half hour. The lures will attract a plethora of Pokémon. Then, a beacon will appear on players’ phones to alert them to a new location where creatures have gathered.

“Several of our parks are PokéStops,” Abele said. “We love that this game is getting people outside and active in the parks. Play safe and stay tuned for more Pokémon-themed events in your parks!”

In addition to the smartphone game, families will enjoy photo-ops and Pokémon-themed games. All ages are invited to participate in the Poliwag Water Balloon Toss, PokéEgg Race, and the scavenger hunt. Coloring sheets featuring the Mystic, Valor, and Instinct teams will also be available at the PokéNic.

Families may bring their own snacks, beverages, or picnic lunches.

For more information, call (414) 257-5600.

CANCELED: MKE County Parks to host town hall meeting about future of parks, July 20 and July 21

July 12, 2016


(Milwaukee County Parks Department to Host Town Hall Meetings to Talk About the Future of ParksJuly 20July 21)  The public forums are being rescheduled.

Milwaukee County Parks Director John Dargle Jr. invites the public to a series of town hall meetings to share ideas on improving the County Parks System. The town hall meetings will take place from 6:30–8 p.m., Wednesday, July 20, at Boerner Botanical Gardens, 9400 W. Boerner Drive, and 6:30–8 p.m., Thursday, July 21, at the Gordon Park Pavilion, 2828 N. Humboldt Blvd.

“We want to give residents a chance to weigh in on what activities and amenities they would like to see in the parks now and into the future,” Dargle said.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture is in the process of updating the 1991 Milwaukee County Park & Open Space Plan and preparing a ten-year Park System Master Plan that will be used to guide priorities for the future of Milwaukee County parks, trails, recreational facilities and services.

For more information, call Parks Information at (414) 257-PARK (7275).

Rep. Young’s Statement on Tragic Police Shootings and the Use of Deadly Force

July 12, 2016

Source: Press release from office of Rep. Leon D. Young

Assembly District 16 State Representative  Leon D. Young (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement on the tragic police shootings in Baton Rouge (LA) and St. Paul (MN) last week and the need to confront racial biases in law enforcement.

“As a former Milwaukee Police Officer, I believe that I speak with some degree of knowledge and insight when it comes to police stops that involve the public. The vast majority of interactions between police officers and civilians end routinely, with no one injured. However, as we have seen on a number of occasions, when the person being stopped is either Black or Latino, tragic outcomes have occurred.”

“There is no question that our criminal justice system needs to be reformed in order to address the serious racial disparities that exist. And, more specific to current police practices, we must be willing to have a renewed conversation about the efficacy of deadly force; and the need to implement an intervention model that promotes a de-escalation strategy first.”

There are many steps that should, and must, be taken in order to improve the relationship between the community and law enforcement; and hopefully reduce the level of random gun violence and harmful encounters with the police. The domestic tranquility of our nation is literally at stake.

“Our country and community is literally inundated with handguns, hundreds of millions in fact. The vast majority of Americans support common sense gun control measures. If we are really concerned about curbing random gun violence, then enacting universal background checks on all handgun transactions and banning all assault weapons is the very least we should do.”

“It’s no secret that effective community policing is predicated on the police building ties and working with stakeholders in the community. However, when this bond is broken or never established, life in the community suffers and the job of policing becomes more difficult. Police departments should be a reflection of the community they serve (and protect), and departments must do a better job of hiring more officers of color. There are many steps that should, and must, be taken in order to improve the relationship between the community and law enforcement; and hopefully reduce the level of random gun violence and harmful encounters with the police. The domestic tranquility of our nation is literally at stake.”


Milwaukee County BRT Project Receives Wide Ranging Support

July 12, 2016

Source: Press release from office of Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Executive

Milwaukee County BRT Project Receives Wide Ranging Support from Community Leaders, Advocates, Business Groups and Riders
County Board and Milwaukee Common Council Committees Expected to Vote on BRT This Week

From the ACLU to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and dozens of groups and organizations in between, support for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit project in Milwaukee County is diverse and wide ranging.

The proposed 9-mile route would provide an improved transit connection to major employment and activity centers through downtown Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, Milwaukee’s near west side, and Wauwatosa. With more frequent service and faster travel times, BRT will give riders more time to spend with their families, more time to study for a final exam, or simply more time to relax at home.

In statements and letters of support, groups are calling the BRT project crucial to the future of the region:

A recent survey revealed that 47% of African Americans living in Milwaukee do not have a driver’s license and three-fourths of the available jobs are outside of the bus lines. We will never address crime, poverty, and a simple opportunity for people of color to make a living and contribute to the tax base if they have no access to available jobs.
African American Chamber of Commerce

New BRT service introduced into other cities increased ridership by as much as 67 percent, and could be particularly helpful to the disability community, which disproportionately does not drive or have access to a personal vehicle to get to work, school, medical appointments and other critical locations. This BRT project has the potential to remarkably improve those people’s lives.
Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities 

We see the BRT as improving the efficiency of transit travel in this corridor in the long term and ensuring more employment options are accessible to residents living along the BRT corridor.
Menomonee Valley Partners

The East-West BRT service would advance the build out of the planned multi-modal transportation network. It would elevate a diversity of neighborhoods along the route and support the region’s top employment centers and world-class educational, cultural and entertainment destinations.
Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee

“In a community that is too often polarized over issues big and small it’s encouraging to see such wide ranging support for BRT,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “At public input sessions and neighborhood association meetings, on campuses and in boardrooms, Milwaukee County has heard overwhelmingly from people in the Cities of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and all around the county that Bus Rapid Transit will make our transportation system more efficient and help more people connect with jobs, workforce training and school.”

An analysis shows that in less than 20 years the BRT project will attract as many as 9,000 new riders every day and cut bus travel times on the route. The study team found the proposed BRT service would also benefit drivers by taking more than 6,100 cars off the road and reducing the amount of miles people drive by up to 17 million miles a year. Fewer cars mean less congestion on local roads, and cleaner air for everyone.

The Wauwatosa Common Council voted last month to approve the proposed route. Transportation committees of the Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee Common Council are expected to consider the proposal at meetings this week.

If all the local legislative bodies approve the route, Milwaukee County will file for a federal grant in August. It’s expected that 80% of the cost of the route will be covered by federal money.

Groups and organizations that are formally supporting BRT

  • African American Chamber of Commerce
  • ACLU of Wisconsin
  • Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee
  • Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Disability Rights Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce
  • Milwaukee Regional Medical Center
  • Intergovernmental Cooperation Council
  • LISC
  • Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH)
  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
  • Menomonee Valley Partners
  • My Choice Family Care
  • Milwaukee Transit Riders Union
  • TDA of Wisconsin
  • Transit Services Advisory Committee of Milwaukee County
  • Milwaukee Urban League
  • Vision Forward
  • VISIT Milwaukee
  • Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities
  • Wisconsin Department of Transportation

IN BALANCE — A guide to walking meditation

July 5, 2016

By Aleisha Anderson

Summer’s warmth and beauty is upon us! Relaxation and time to unwind become increasingly important in order to balance the excitement and joy we feel, in addition to the stressors we encounter in daily life. Without this balance, burnout and loss of emotional control is inevitable.

Walking meditation is a calming practice that can bring more peace into daily life. With this practice, we may develop greater mindfulness of the body and enhance awareness of our thought patterns, our emotions, and our outside world.

When we walk meditatively, there is no rush. There is no destination. The walk is not about getting from one place to another. It is about guiding our body and mind to be more deeply connected.

Start by getting rooted. Take a moment to stand in one place with feet shoulder-width apart. Here we can imagine our heels and toes connecting to the earth below. We can close our eyes and take a deep, slow, nourishing breath that fills the lungs and expands the belly. Let the air out slowly and steadily through the nose. Now take in the surroundings with all of the senses. Smell the air, feel the wind and temperature, hear the sounds in the landscape, see the details, and touch the earth below with rooted feet. Let the setting flow through and past the body.

Moving slowly, we begin by picking up our feet and stepping slowly and deliberately. We focus our attention on the soles of the feet, being aware of the alternating patterns of contact and release, being aware of each foot as the heel first makes contact, then rolls forward onto the ball, and finally lifts and travels through the air.

Awareness may then shift into a moving body scan. When any area in the body feels tense, we can deliberately breathe deeply and think about softening and relaxing that tension. We relax the jaw and let our gaze focus on the path with all things on that path flowing past and existing only in that moment. We are going without arriving. We can appreciate our own unique walking rhythms.

Now we let our thoughts and emotions flow through us. We may notice how we are feeling. Let those feelings flow without attaching to them or thinking about them. We may notice the mind also. Are there calm, clear, dull, busy, or worried thoughts passing through? We notice these thoughts but without judgment, action, or contemplation. Let go of the thoughts and let them flow through like water.

We are cultivating a balance between the inner and outer world. Being aware of both experiences at once, without placing attention on either one, settles the mind at a point of stillness and clarity. With practice, we may find that point of balance where the mind feels content and quiet.

When we are ready to complete the walk, we come to a natural halt. We stand in one spot and experience the stillness. We notice the complex balancing act within the body that keeps us upright on our feet, feeling again the weight traveling down through the soles of the feet into the earth. We may end the meditation with a deep, slow, belly breath.

Walking meditation is a practice in creating a deeper connection between the mind and body. Connecting to the earth will ground the body and provide stability for the mind. Enjoy the journey.

Bay View resident Aleisha Anderson, L.Ac., is the clinic director and acupuncturist at Mke Mindbody Wellness, an integrative wellness center with holistic therapies focused on mental health. More information: mkewellness.com.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this column is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care. 

PAREN(T)HESIS — True meaning of summer

July 5, 2016

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Summer is cruising by and we are already talking about Summerfest in the past tense. What does summer truly mean for the modern Bay View family?

It certainly differs from the media representation of summers in other parts of the nation, especially in coastal media. For example, I see articles in East Coast blogs about summer sleepaway camp but don’t know any Midwesterners who actually send their children to these camps. “Summer camp” around here usually refers to a Milwaukee Recreation-run camp that supervises kids during the day. It’s the equivalent of daycare for older children.

Many of my friends and I do take our children camping but it’s a shared experience, typically over a long weekend in a state park.

A more humble concept of what summer should look like is children staying up late to catch fireflies and playing “ghosts in the graveyard.” This one also doesn’t apply, and one reason is that most kids and parents need to be up with an alarm clock in the morning.

Other than my friends who are teachers, most people I know spend most of summer much like the rest of the year — working! Just over 25 percent of American families have a parent staying home in summer and the rate probably holds true for Bay View. The definition of “family” makes a huge difference. Is mom on her own or can she tag team with the father? Can grandparents or other relatives help out?

The reality leaves most parents struggling to find childcare for 10 or 11 weeks while school is out. Tandem concerns are scheduling and cost since many camps do not cover the entire length of a work day and most private ones eat into the parents’ wages. The situation can get dangerous when strapped parents leave children home alone. When school starts again, that gets detrimental if the “summer slide” slows their scholastic progress.

The best part of summer, in my opinion, is the type of “priceless” experience that is rarely advertised. It’s hanging out in the area’s beautiful parks while kids play, making up their own games revolving around sticks or throwing rocks into Lake Michigan.

Simple fun in the sun is priceless — even if it requires a day off work.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at

Interview with Ald. Tony Zielinski — Pedestrian safety in Bay View

July 5, 2016

Milwaukee Police officers spent several hours at the site of a fatal pedestrian accident on Lincoln and Howell avenues June 24 where Christa Pittman was struck by a pick-up truck. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Milwaukee Police officers spent several hours at the site of a fatal pedestrian accident on Lincoln and Howell avenues June 24 where Christa Pittman was struck by a pick-up truck. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The following interview was conducted with District 14 Ald. Zielinski by the Compass on June 29 about five hours after 83-year-old Christa Pittman was fatally injured. She was struck about 11:30am by a pick-up truck when she was crossing the street at the intersection of Howell and Lincoln avenues. Authorities ruled her death an accident. Pittman died of blunt force injuries to her head and neck, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office.

Will this pedestrian fatality today make you more sensitive to residents’ call for safer conditions in Bay View for pedestrians?

I am going to continue to be as sensitive as I’ve been. We’ve done an enormous amount of work to address safety and pedestrian issues.

I am sensitive to resident calls for more traffic calming. I introduced a resolution calling for the state to authorize us to install surveillance cameras with radar guns so that people who exceed the speed limit get tickets in the mail. That will cause these drivers to pay more attention, follow the rules of the road and reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again. I testified before a committee in Madison but it wasn’t approved.

When did you introduce it?

About six years ago, I think.

I don’t know what could have been done here. She had the signal, she was in the crosswalk. If you have a driver who is going to violate the rules and hit her…what do you think could be done?

What happened to your effort a year ago or so to make Kinnickinnic safer for pedestrians?

Milwaukee Police Department said they would do it on their own. They had some grant money. Police Captain Rowe didn’t tell me specifics but she said they’re going to do it as well, when I’m not out there.

To do what?

Educate people about the rules of the road. [Zielinski contacted the Compass to clarify this point. He said he plans to set up traffic education events that he will stage in Bay View for the benefit of residents and those who drive through the neighborhood. They are to take place this year.]

Do you think this tragic fatality will help ensure success for those at Parkside School and Downtown Montessori who are trying to get more traffic control on Howell between Lincoln and Oklahoma?

I have to talk to traffic engineers at the DPW (Dept. of Public Works). There are some things that people request and want that are going to make the situation more dangerous or cause more problems. So we  have to balance that. [But] this had nothing to do with what the city could have done to make this safer. The crosswalk lanes are clearly painted. She had the right of way. I don’t know what could have been done.

How about increasing speed and traffic law enforcement on Bay View’s busiest streets and intersections where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic?

That’s why security cameras with radar guns are so important. The police tell me their first priority is to catch criminals. So what I’ve done is to introduce budget amendments to have more cops than what was proposed and supported by the mayor. That got voted down by the council, so it wasn’t supported by the mayor. If we’ve got more cops, we’d have more cops on the street, more resources to dedicate to this…I plan on doing that again, depending on how much the mayor is proposing (in the next budget), to get more cops on the street.

What else have you done?

People who live near Smith Street and Howell Avenue told me people were parking too close to the end of the block (making it difficult to cross Howell at Smith). Their line of vision was harmed. I had the traffic engineers study it and they recommended putting signs up not letting people park so close to the intersection. That was about a year ago.

Did the signs go up?

Yes. We got that done. The neighbors wanted that. So we moved the parking back so there was a better line of vision.

As you see, I’ve been very proactive about this. Let me tell you right now, I’ve been as aggressive — I’ve been as aggressive as anybody addressing these issues  — by number one, continually fighting for more cops so we get more officers to enforce the rules of the road. I introduced legislation that got voted down, so number one, we need more cops to enforce traffic laws.

Number two, I came up with a creative plan to get surveillance cameras with radar guns to issue tickets in the mail. If everybody knows if they violate the speed limit they’re going to get a ticket in the mail, they’re going to be more careful when they drive, thereby reducing the likelihood of fatalities taking place like the one we saw today.

I got speed bumps built all over the district as well as other traffic calming measures. At Clement Avenue School, I got the bump outs built. At Sixth and Hayes, in another part of the district, I got bump outs over there. So we’ve been very active and proactive on dealing with these erratic driving issues.

As you can see, I’m here on the scene because of the seriousness. I came down to talk with people about these issues. The one thing I want to stress is this fatality was not the result of the city not taking some sort of precautionary measures.

[At this point in the interview, Ald. Zielinski paused to call Keith Broadnax, manager of the city’s Legislative Reference Bureau, and left a voice message asking him to draft a measure, similar to the one that Zielinski introduced in the past, to introduce a resolution calling on the state to allow the city of Milwaukee to install surveillance cameras with radar guns.]

Maybe we can use this fatality as an impetus…it will maybe get something done. All of my colleagues are complaining. We’re bombarded by complaints about speeding from constituents saying, what are you doing?

Every year these motorists are becoming more and more erratic and increase the risk of these types of fatalities like we had today. I want to make clear, she had the right of way. What could have been done?! The driver made a left hand turn and hit her in the crosswalk.

Build A Better Bay View — debut column

July 5, 2016

By Christopher Miller

This month we debut “Build A Better Bay View,” a new column by Christopher Miller. The column title, which the author suggested, references the slogan painted on the north wall of the former Faust Music Building that read For A Stronger Bay View. — Editor

HSMALL Christopher Millerow do we build a better Bay View? It’s time to discuss how we can work together to manage change in our community. Recently the Kinnickinnic Avenue Bid (Business Improvement District #44) completed its visioning process that engaged the neighborhood in sharing ideas about what the KK BID could become and to solicit feedback about what the BID could be doing to improve the KK shopping corridor.

This process surfaced ongoing concerns amongst neighbors about the size and scale of new buildings in Bay View, especially, but not exclusively, along Kinnickinnic Avenue. Many who attended the visioning meetings wanted to create a forum for ongoing work to preserve the community’s special features — historical buildings, urban form, awesome people, and engaged community — that make Bay View a unique place to live, and a desirable place to construct new buildings.

It was perhaps not surprising that these issues came up because they were also a significant part of the recently concluded District 14 Alderic* race. In that campaign, both candidates reviewed a series of recent projects, built or not-yet built, including, the Teachtown project at the former Dover Street School site, the mixed-use development at the former Faust Music site, the development proposal for the At Random site, and the Dwell building on Kinnickinnic at Conway. The discussion highlighted the critical role that the District 14 alder plays in courting businesses, working with builders, and keeping the community informed about possible developments and design proposals.

While there was a great divergence in aesthetic opinion, virtually everyone agreed that moving forward, public participation in the approval process and public input on design proposals would benefit everyone. Ald. Zielinski reiterated his oft-repeated vow that constituent opinion would determine the stance he takes towards proposed construction projects.

The benefits and challenges of change are clear. In the past decade, a thriving creative community and a fabulous dining and nightlife scene came together through the work of countless small business owners, artists, and community patrons. More residential developments soon allowed people to follow in ever-greater numbers, bringing increased housing costs and higher tax bills. Slowly but surely one generation of Bay View is being replaced by another in a process that is not always smooth. But even in the midst of this revival, there are still empty storefronts and pockets of crime.

As noted, the BID’s visioning process revealed that Bay View’s residents want to be engaged in shaping the future of our neighborhood. But because so much has changed over the past decade, and so many familiar landmarks have disappeared, many folks are also concerned about the pace and scope of future change.

What’s just as clear is that there is not yet a consensus about what sort of place Bay View should be, and absent big community discussions about these issues, it’s quite possible that we’ll continue to wander along merely reacting to project after project. Without a vision, the future will just happen to us.

But just what is Bay View? And what does it want to be when it grows up?

Perhaps most importantly, how will we decide?

Currently, we’ve fallen into the trap of being for or against something called “development” as if our only choices are to build whatever someone proposes, or to ban it and preserve things the way they are now. But development is a rather insulting way to frame the entire discussion, and a peculiarly American one at that.

Bay View has been incorporated as a political entity for nearly 150 years, so there’s no possible way anyone can claim that it’s “undeveloped.” Bay View has been built and rebuilt so many times that most of us don’t even know what the intervening versions looked like! We wiped Deer Creek off the map, built and tore down an iron mill, filled in and dug out new paths for rivers, and replaced a rail line with a highway and a bike path. So step one is that we have to step outside the “development” frame.

You can’t be for or against development here; it happened a long time ago, and it will continue to happen.

The question is: What will it look like? What version of change will we choose?

Visions of successful neighborhoods are manifold, and they involve many different competing and overlapping interests and concerns. We have many views about aesthetics, economics, and fairness and equity, and also about diversity of residents, shopping opportunities, and modes of transportation. Each of these holds a different level of appeal to different folks; one person’s vision won’t look like another’s. So any discussion about vision has to take that into account and allow for those who hold the different bundles to have their say, to be heard, and to shape the direction events ultimately take.

That doesn’t mean we should merely move forward by “averaging” everyone’s opinion, or that we strive to make everyone happy. Leadership and shared decision-making cannot be expressed as a simple math problem where we calculate the sum of the individual responses and declare a winner. It involves setting priorities, making choices, and sometimes having difficult conversations with those who won’t be getting their way.

None of this will happen unless we intentionally build a space where individual decisions can be considered in a bigger context. As we consider a specific proposal, its impact on those who live nearby must be considered. But we cannot forget buildings and streetscapes become part of our shared environment and are something that everyone must look at and live with over a long period of time. We need to consider both of these viewpoints.

The KK BID rightly sought community involvement in shaping its own activities and plans for the future. In other cases, we’ve seen that public discourse can, in fact, shape the kinds of structures that are ultimately built in Bay View. It’s important, however, that those processes are not captured by one specific vision of what urban living looks like. Our shared vision must emerge from our individual and collective experiences if our goal is to preserve what people love.

So, moving forward, let’s agree that Bay View is a desirable place. Why do people want to be here? Because of the amazing work its residents do every day creating a community of caring, engaged folks dedicated to their neighborhood. That energy — the individual and collective decisions and actions that thousands of Bay Viewers make every day — is what will build a better Bay View.

Each month, I hope to use this column to explore a specific proposal or concept and to engage in a discussion with folks who have different takes. Check back to see what happens next!

By the way, who is planning that 150th anniversary party in 2029?

*Alderic is a word coined by Miller to replace aldermanic. It is his preferred term, as it is gender neutral.

Christopher Miller has lived in Bay View since 2010 and has been on the board of the Bay View Neighborhood Association, working to connect neighbors for a better Bay View, since 2013.  You can contact him at BuildABetterBV@bayviewcompass.com.

New community garden takes root at Cupertino Park

July 5, 2016

By Sheila Julson

The 25 new community garden plots on the corner of Shore Drive and Ontario Street are flooded with many hours of unobstructed sunlight. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The 25 new community garden plots on the corner of Shore Drive and Ontario Street are flooded with many hours of unobstructed sunlight. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Those passing by the bluff of Cupertino Park on the northeast corner of Shore Drive and Ontario Street will notice a bounty of vegetables and flowers flourishing under the summer sun.

Cupertino Community Garden, directly east of Bay View Terrace, consists of 25 four-by-eight foot raised beds. Five of those are approximately 30 inches tall, significantly higher than the others, to make those plots wheelchair accessible.

Bay View’s newest community garden was created in response to the desire of residents in the vicinity of Cupertino Park to have a garden space. The project’s leaders partnered with Groundwork Milwaukee, UW-Extension, and Milwaukee County’s Sowing, Empowering, and Eliminating Deserts of Food (SEED) program.

Cupertino Park is a 7.5 acre Milwaukee County Park on the bluff between Russell Avenue and Ontario Street that spills down along the waterfront on Lake Michigan. Bay View Terrace resident Joe Walsh spearheaded the idea for the Cupertino garden. He observed that the south end of the parkland on the bluff was very advantageous for growing because it benefits from many hours of direct sunlight. Another benefit is water access. There is a fire hydrant on the east side of Shore Drive at Ontario. Fire hydrants are fitted with adaptors by the Department of Public Works to provide tap/hose access to community gardens.

Last fall Walsh began asking his neighbors if they’d be interested in a small community garden.

Walsh reached out to Antoine Carter, program manager of Milwaukee Urban Gardens (MUG), a program of Groundwork Milwaukee.

Groundwork Milwaukee is part of Groundwork USA, a network of independent, not-for-profit environmental businesses called Groundwork Trusts. These trusts are locally controlled and offer cost-efficient project development services designed to improve the health and economy of its communities.

There are 90 community gardens under Groundwork Milwaukee’s purview, Carter said. His organization advises and assists garden organizers in other ways, such as obtaining fire hydrant permits, liability insurance, and providing workers to help community gardens with large projects such as distributing mulch or soil.

Other Groundwork Milwaukee community gardens in the Bay View area include Village Roots near Beulah Brinton Community Center, and the Hide House Community Garden at Greeley Street and Deer Place.

“Groundwork Milwaukee’s role is to be a first point of contact for any group looking to start a community garden,” Carter said, “What we do is provide a fast track to activating a space. Because we have a leasing agreement with the city, we lease lots from the city and then lease those to garden groups. That allows us to also provide insurance. While we’re providing insurance, we also like to stay involved with any technical support for growing and community engagement.”

Carter met with the Cupertino project’s leaders to assess their needs and overall goals. “Because they were interested in using county park land — most of our gardens are on vacant lots owned by the city or private owners, we decided it would be good to partner with UW-Extension and the SEED program to assist with design and help with logistics for the garden,” he said.

Walsh and Ryan Schone, food system coordinator for UW-Extension, canvassed the Cupertino Park vicinity to gauge interest in a community garden. Schone emphasized the importance of community engagement. He said that means gathering opinions and keeping residents involved, versus a top-down approach where an organization just comes into an area and builds garden beds with the hope that residents will support the new garden.

Approximately 35 to 40 people attended a forum in January at South Shore Park Pavilion. Not everyone supported the garden. There was some pushback from residents who objected to using Milwaukee County Park space for the gardens or who worried community gardens might not be well-tended and would become unsightly.

“The response was quite positive,” Schone said. “There were some concerns, but we overall addressed that. It was very evident that the community was getting behind it, with no major red flags.”

He noted that the area in Cupertino Park where the garden is located isn’t as heavily used as some parks, South Shore, for example, but despite that, he said they left a large portion of space north of the new garden plots open for recreation.

SEED funding covered much of the costs, Schone said. Other costs are covered by support from community partners such as Groundwork Milwaukee and by garden plot rental fees.

Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic helped sponsor the three-tiered SEED (Sowing, Empowering, and Eliminating Deserts of Food) resolution that was adopted last year. The goals of the program are working with community partners to eliminate food deserts by growing produce in neighborhoods with little access to fresh vegetables and fruit, increasing the number of community gardens, and planting fruit orchards.

Through the SEED program, Milwaukee County will partner with the Hunger Task Force, Growing Power, and UW-Extension. Hunger Task Force will operate a Mobile Market within the county to serve residents who live in food deserts and coordinate with the existing Stockbox delivery program to seniors. “Our goal is to create a million square feet of community garden space throughout Milwaukee County,” said Ryan Schone, food systems coordinator for UW-Extension. They’re working on eight new garden sites this year, but two of those may not launch until next year.

The raised bed gardens were installed shortly before Memorial Day weekend. Approximately 15 to 20 volunteers performed the work, Carter said. Bliffert Lumber and Hardware donated some of the boards that frame the plots. Soil was purchased from Blue Ribbon Organics.

No gardener has more than one plot this year, Schone said. Each paid $20 for the plot and the price included water. There were five people on the waiting list who did not receive a plot this year.

“Cupertino has an active group of people dedicated to the overall success of the garden,” Carter said. “Urban agriculture has really grown in the city and because there are so many vacant lots, it provides a great space for change. We’re happy to be a part of it and help people transform unused space into something they really want to enjoy.”

“The garden is not exclusive to Bay View Terrace residents,” Walsh emphasized. ‘It’s a community garden and for use for some people from the Terrace, but it’s also for the community.”

 Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to the Bay View Compass.

City to test innovative tree-planting system in Bay View Trees, flowers, and gateway highlight BID’s streetscape plans

July 5, 2016

By Sheila Julson

Trees, flowers, and gateway highlight BID’s streetscape plans

The Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District, BID #44, has set lofty streetscape goals for the second half of 2016. Flowers, gateway signage, trees, and greenspace improvements are on the agenda.

Mary Ellen O’Donnell, BID board member and chair of the streetscape committee, said the BID’s most ambitious project is planting about 30 trees on Kinnickinnic Avenue.

The board is partnering with the city of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD) for the project.

The new trees will be planted by incorporating an underground modular system known as the Silva Cell system produced by the company DeepRoot Green Infrastructure. This underground structure provides a substrate that promotes root growth and support for the growth of large trees, but also stormwater management.

Bay View will be the first neighborhood in the city to use the Silva Cell system. “The city contacted us last year and asked if we’d be willing to work with them to plant the trees along KK as part of this pilot program,” O’Donnell said. “The reason we were chosen is because KK is pretty much all cement and is a high density area. We, of course, told them absolutely.”

Silva Cells are designed specifically for dense urban areas where there’s no tree border or grassy area between the curb and sidewalk, which prevents traditional tree planting, said Kim Kujoth, a DPW environmental policy analyst.

How It Works

IMAGE DeepRoot Green Infrastructure

IMAGE DeepRoot Green Infrastructure

In a natural environment, a forest, for example, trees grow in soil that is lightly compacted. That soil provides space for the roots to spread and to access adequate water and nutrients. By contrast, trees planted in cities along roads and sidewalks are forced to grow in compacted soil. Engineering requirements imposed by cities require the compaction to support the weight of buildings and roads/traffic.

The Silva Cell is basically an underground structure that makes it possible for heavily compacted soil to be replaced with “lightly-compacted soil or bio-retention soil.” The new non-compacted soil provides a healthy environment for tree growth by providing contiguous soil that is ideal for root growth. Additionally, the cell system acts as a stormwater management system by intercepting and absorbing runoff from the sidewalk, roads, and adjacent buildings.

Before the cell system can be installed, the sidewalk must be removed and soil excavated. The vertical components of modular structure transfer weight from above ground, down through the new non-compacted soil, to the compacted soil beneath, known as the sub-base. The horizontal element at the top of the cells supports the pavement above. The system is installed around underground utilities.

The information above was provided in a video created by DeepRoot Infrastructure. Watch it: goo.gl/ndgUrS

“Our project goals are multifold: add a much needed tree canopy to Kinnickinnic Avenue, manage stormwater onsite, pilot new technology and evaluate (its) performance for future use, create value on KK, and enhance (other) streetscaping improvements by the Kinnickinnic Avenue BID,” Kujoth said.

“We were aware that there was a desire for added greening in the neighborhood, so we decided to try the Silva Cell system [in Bay View] first,” Kujoth said. “It’s a good fit for the neighborhood, as it’s an area that is more environmentally conscious.”

Property owners adjacent to the new trees will not bear any of the costs nor will the BID. The $332,079 project will be supported by MMSD with a $110,000 Green Infrastructure Partnership Program grant and another, separate $112,079 MMSD Green Solution Fund grant, plus a $110,000 City-Match grant.

“Many grants will require the person or entity receiving the grant to pay a portion of the project’s cost,” said Ald. Tony Zielinski, whose district includes the KK BID. “The portion that is not paid by the grant is called the Match or City-Match. The amount of the match can vary from grant to grant and typically can be anywhere from 10 to 50 percent.

“In regards to the stormwater tree project along Kinnickinnic Avenue, the BID is receiving a grant from MMSD that requires a 50 percent match from the city. MMSD is contributing $110,000 and the city will match that with $110,000. When the city accepted the MMSD grant through the Common Council, we identified the source for the City-Match. These funds are coming from the Sewer Maintenance Fund’s Water Quality account. The other MMSD grant we received for the stormwater trees project did not require a City-Match.”

Kujoth said 23 trees will be planted by employing Silva Cells at eight sites and that up to seven additional trees will be planted in existing greenspaces using traditional methods.

“Based on concerns from property owners that trees could block signage, Forestry will plant more narrow-crown tree species to limit sight obstructions.” The four tree cultivars are Autumn Blaze Maple, Cleveland Select Pear (non-fruit bearing), Japanese Tree Lilac (Ivory Silk), and New Horizon Elm. These varieties grow straighter with a narrower canopy, unlike trees in the city’s older canopy, thereby reducing the possibility of obstructions. Kujoth said that Silva Cells have been used extensively in other part of the United States and worldwide.

The trees will be planted in groups of two to three, in eight locations along KK from Becher Street to Morgan Avenue, plus five on the median on Oklahoma Avenue just west of Kinnickinnic. Planting is to be completed by late September. The BID recommended locations for the trees and reached out the property and business owners located near the planting areas.

O’Donnell said it was important to note that the location of the trees was determined by city engineers for optimal environmental impact.

The city awarded the project contract to Front Range Environmental, based in McHenry, Ill.

“KK can definitely use more trees, so we’re happy about that,” O’Donnell said. “When we did the streetscape survey, the general input from residents and commercial property owners was that we needed more green on KK. This feeds that particular want.”

The appearance of the most barren areas on Kinnickinnic Avenue will be a little less sterile after three trees are planted on Herman  Street, across from the adjacent empty lot. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The appearance of one of the most barren areas on Kinnickinnic Avenue will be a little less sterile after three trees are planted on Herman Street across from the adjacent empty lot. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Locations of Tree Plantings
Kinnickinnic & Linus (Razor Barber Shop)

Kinnickinnic & Russell
(Empty lot between BMO and Herman Street)

Kinnickinnic & Herman
(North Side of former Bella’s building)

Kinnickinnic & California (Outpost)

Kinnickinnic & Linebarger (Cousins)

Kinnickinnic & Rusk (Pastiche and Blackbird)

Kinnickinnic & Oklahoma (Median) 

Location Eight: Kinnickinnic & Vollmer (Landmark Restaurant, State Farm)

Other Streetscaping Plans

O’Donnell expressed excitement about the BID’s flower program. Like last year, 60 hanging baskets with assorted flowers have been placed on streetlight poles along the BID, between Becher Street and Morgan Avenue. This year the BID worked with Custom Grown Greenhouses. The company was hired to design and maintain the flower baskets. Custom Grown was chosen because it could provide comprehensive service including watering and basket care. Last year the BID hired a vendor to create the baskets and another to water and maintain them.

The BID also owns 18 standing planters that were purchased earlier in the BID’s history. They are located between Russell Avenue and Ward Street primarily on KK. “Many business owners have taken initiative and planted them up with their own choice of plants and maintained them,” O’Donnell said. “About half have already been planted, but the ones that have not — the orphan planters — we’re going to plant in those.” Custom Grown will also maintain the “orphan planters.”

O’Donnell noted that the BID-owned planters should not be confused with other large planters purchased and maintained by individual businesses, like those in front of Lulu’s, as well as the flowerboxes created independent of the BID such as the flowerboxes made by the former owners of Future Green, where Odd Duck is located.

The budget for the flower program is approximately $6,500, O’Donnell said, and includes all flower material, installation, and upkeep/watering for four months. In past years, the Bay View Neighborhood Association (BVNA) had been involved in some flower programs, but this year it is solely a project of the KK BID.

The BID planted indigenous perennial grasses at Art Stop in 2016. There are still two unplanted portions at that site that the BID will landscape with smaller grasses and perennial flowering later this summer. O’Donnell said the BID hired an individual to plant and maintain the landscaping.

The BID is reviewing two proposals for “Welcome to Bay View” gateway signage on KK at the BID’s entry points — Becher on the north and Morgan on the south. O’Donnell said they hope to complete that project by late summer or early fall. Planning is still in the early stages and the BID has no design or artwork yet. The signs, which would emphasize all of Bay View, not just KK, will not be illuminated but will instead be placed near streetlights. They will be freestanding signs, an archway over the street like signage in the Third Ward. “We’re doing what we think is appropriate for the neighborhood and our budget,” O’Donnell said.

Other projects still in the very early stages include exploring the possibility of installing benches and more planters along KK; enhancing the pocket parks with landscaping and a picnic table.  The triangle park on KK and Pryor Avenue may be spruced up.

The BID has also been meeting with the Bay View Historical Society and BVNA about a potential mural program. No locations have been determined at this time, O’Donnell said. They are still gauging the level of interest of business owners. “Preliminary feedback has shown that there is interest in it,” she said. “Mural art programs can be exciting and Bay View has such a great art community.”

Currently, Bay View has a number of murals on public and private structures. A few examples are the beer garden at South Shore Park, on a retaining wall at Trowbridge School playground, and in a narrow alley behind the Avalon Theater.

Looking toward the holiday season, O’Donnell said the BID would also repeat its successful Winter Wonder Windows holiday window-decorating contest. Twenty businesses participated in the contest in December 2015.

The BID’s streetscape committee members are Lee Barczak, Stephanie Harling, Ian Nunn, Mary Ellen O’Donnell, Carisse Ramos, and Toni Spott.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.

Katherine Keller contributed to this story.