Goodbye Old Friend

September 1, 2017

By Katherine Keller

South Shore Park’s iconic beech tree has died

The trunk of the State Champion European Copper Beech in South Shore Park will remain in place for a time as local groups, Friends of South Shore Park among those, consider ways to memorialize the tree. PHOTO Katherine Keller

I hate to see it go,” said Lauri Gorton, who lives on Estes Street across from the State Champion European Copper Beech tree in South Shore Park.

The iconic Bay View tree has reached the end of its life and is giving way to Milwaukee County Parks arborists, who began removing its limbs August 9. The beech succumbed to old age and a fungal disease.

“The tree is so significant,” Polly Caster said. She was among a group of people who gathered at the tree to pick up pieces that the arborists placed at its base for those who wanted to pickup a souvenir. “It’s been like a neighbor. I see it every day when I walk my dog.” Caster has lived on Mabbett Avenue since the early 90s.

Jan Grimes has lived on Superior Street since 1985, and like Caster, has admired the tree for decades.

“I see it every season. It’s delicate leaves in spring and fully leafed out in summer. It was magnificent,” Caster said.

Log Ladies Jan Grimes and Polly Caster took a break from a painting project to gather slabs and logs that were cut from the Eurpoean Copper Beech tree in South Shore Park. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The stately beech is believed to have begun life in the mid-1800s. That means it may have been part of the South Shore landscape for about 160 to 170 years.

The beech would have sprung up on the land some years after Elijah and Zebiah Estes purchased their land in 1835 or 1836 and developed their home and farm on the land above Lake Michigan. A section of their land was later incorporated into what is now South Shore Park.

Residue from the Bay View rolling mills likely settled on its limbs. Perhaps social activist and “civic saint” Beulah Brinton strolled past the tree as she introduced new immigrant families to the developing village of Bay View.

The tree survived the many changes to the land that nurtured it over a period of 16 or so decades.

In 2016 we reported that Milwaukee County Parks Forestry Supervisor Gregg Collins said that the majestic beech tree was in poor health and “over-mature.” In other words, the tree had exceeded its species’ typical lifespan. He compared it to a human being who was 105 years old.

Collins said that beginning in 2012 the tree lost several large limbs and that missing bark was evidenced at the base of the trunk. Missing bark indicated tissue dieback, another symptom of a tree in decline.

In 2015, he hired Wachtel to examine the tree. He said they observed canopy thinning, gypsy moths, aphids, carpenter ants, more tissue dieback, and fungal infection. Different strategies were deployed to support the tree — an antifungal treatment, ant killer, compost tea, watering the root zone, and adding mulch at the base of the tree.

The tree’s distress was exacerbated that year by hot dry weeks in June, July, and August.

Last year, the majority of its leaves dried and shriveled by midsummer. Collins decided to give the tree one more year but it failed to rebound.

Jeffrey Gollner, Milwaukee County Parks arborist and natural resources technician was in charge of the crew that removed the beech tree’s limbs.

“Fungus killed it,” he said. “We tried various fungicides, fertilizers, and plant growth regulators.”

A plant growth regulator is a hormone, Gollner said, sometimes used on large old trees. It slows growth, allowing the tree’s “energy to be directed toward maintenance,’ to its existing limbs, leaves, and roots.

He said there are numerous European Copper Beech trees growing along the lake in Milwaukee County, but also along the lake as far south as Racine and to Green Bay on the north. noting they don’t grow farther inland.

Mike Gagliano, Jeff Gollner, Ellen Stollenwerk, and Joe Wilson used their skills and expertise to remove the limbs of the Wisconsin State Champion European Copper Beech tree in South Shore Park. It is thought the tree is approximately 160 to 170 years old. The rings will be counted if the trunk is not hollow. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Gollner said there are many Wisconsin State Champion Trees in Milwaukee County Parks and on private land. He noted that one of those is an Ohio Buckeye that is growing on private property on the little section of Euclid Avenue, east of Kinnickinnic Avenue, in the little neighborhood behind Walgreens.

Not far from the dead beech is a Norway Maple that was marked for culling that Gollner estimated to be about 60 years old. Trees are culled when they begin to die. Dying or dead limbs fall and pose a hazard to park-goers.

He said parks are relatively harsh environments for trees. The Norway Maple’s native habitat is a forest where the soil is covered with decomposing leaves, bark, and other plant material with nutrients that are absorbed by the tree’s roots. By contrast, park trees are surrounded by turf that “sucks nutrition” for itself, disadvantaging the trees. Human traffic compacts the soil — trees require porous soil for good root growth.

Gollner said that the trunk of the European Copper Beech will remain in place for a time as local groups, Friends of South Shore Park among those, consider ways to memorialize the tree, perhaps with tree carvings, a bench made from the wood, and salvaged slabs.

If the trunk is intact, Collins said his staff would do its best to get an accurate count. If some of the trunk has rotted away, he said they’d get an approximate date, working with what remains.

“While it is very sad to see the tree that provided so many with shade and climbing fun for kids go, our tree actually lived longer than many of its kind,” said Milwaukee County District 4 Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic. “The Milwaukee County Parks, Friends of South Shore Park, and the Bay View Historical Society are all in talks about how to best memorialize the remaining stump.” South Shore Park falls is in Dimitrijevic’s district.

The South Shore Park European Copper Beech was included on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ list of State Champion Trees. Although it is currently on hold, the champion tree program is a database of the state’s largest trees. DNR’s website notes, “DNR keeps big tree records to encourage the appreciation of Wisconsin’s forest and trees.”

Andrew Gawin, a member of Friends of South Shore Park, said his group requests suggestions about how to memorialize the tree. Cutting boards for a bench is one idea. Another is to take a cross section.

Gerry Thieme, who worked for the parks department at the time, planted the second European Copper Beech tree that is growing about 50 feet east of the original old tree, said Gollner. Gregg Collins said it was planted 17-20 years ago.


Majority of St. Francis Convent Buildings to Be Demolished

August 1, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Buildings shown in red will be demolished. Buildings that will not be demolished on the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi Campus, 3195 S. Superior St., in St. Francis, Wis.: 1.(St. Francis Chapel); 2. (Troubadour Meeting Room); 3. (Juniper Court); 4. (Canticle Court). Buildings that will be demolished: 5. (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); 6. (Power House); 7. (Motherhouse); 8. (St. Elizabeth)

Demolition of the Marian Center for Nonprofits buildings has begun. The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, who own the convent campus, will build a new convent at the site, 3195 S. Superior St.

Spokesperson Jean Merry said Groth Group of Milwaukee was selected to design the new facility that will provide living quarters for 80 sisters and include a kitchen and dining room. The motherhouse offices will also be moved to the new building. A convent’s motherhouse is often the founding building or main location of a religious order.

The century-old Marian Center buildings that once housed St. Mary’s Academy and St. Clare College presented mounting unsustainable maintenance costs and no longer met the aging sisters’ basic health and safety needs.

 

Loretto Hall was built in 1904 as a Catholic high school for girls. The school closed in 1991. It was never converted to a coed high school program. —Photo Katherine Keller

After St. Mary’s Academy closed, the center was created to preserve the legacy of the three connected structures, Loretto Hall, Rosary Hall, and Clare Wing, and provide affordable rent to nonprofits for office and studio space. According to the center’s website, “Loretto Hall was constructed in 1904 as St. Mary’s Institute, a high school for young women. Expansions in 1931 and 1935 created Rosary Hall and Clare Wing to allow for the development of St. Clare College in 1937.”

Five years ago the sisters partnered with Milwaukee-based developer Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. to redevelop the Marian Center for Nonprofits into 44 affordable apartments. The plans for the $10 million project were scuttled when the partners were unable to secure sufficient financing.

Currently, Merry said, 40 sisters live in small rooms, inadequate for eldercare, on the third and fourth floors of another building that also will be demolished.

Read past coverage here and here.


New Planning and Design Study to Address Ongoing Water Quality Problems at South Shore Beach

August 1, 2017

By Keith Schubert

Plan must include a study to relocate the beach

Native species have been planted on the north end of South Shore Beach. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

 Milwaukee County selection committee will have chosen an outside consultant by July 28 to complete a planning and design study addressing near-shore water quality and beach improvements at Milwaukee’s South Shore Beach. The county issued a request for proposal (RFP) June 30 seeking respondents.

The RFP requires respondents to propose three concepts for the county project with the objective “to have a beach with significantly fewer closures due to bacterial contamination.”

The study is funded by a $350,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that was received by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and given to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and sub-awarded to Milwaukee County. The goal of the study will be to find ways to reduce beach closures and improve water quality  conditions. It is another step in ongoing work to improve water quality conditions at South Shore Park.

Jill Organ, chief of planning and development for Milwaukee County Parks, said the study will consider multiple alternatives to carry out this goal. The RFP notes that “the consultant should assume at least two of the concept plans, including the final design, will include the beach being relocated.”

The current budget limits the study parameters to planning, design, and construction-document preparation. The RPF notes that implementation of a construction phase is subject to approval of future funding. Although the construction amount has not yet been identified or secured, the RFP notes “there is a realistic expectation that funding will be pursued.”

The existing parking lot was regraded and reconstructed. The gardens and bioswales were added to filter storm-water runoff. A bird-inhabited sandbar was removed. A section of the Oak Leaf Trail was redirected to a newly constructed promenade along the water’s edge that is safer and more scenic than the previous route through the parking lot. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

Cody Varga of Waterford, Wis. filets a salmon in the South Shore Beach fish cleaning station. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

South Shore Beach is one of three public access points along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the southern half of Milwaukee County. It provides recreational access to thousands of Southeast Wisconsin residents. Beach amenities include a park, bike path, swimming, children’s playground, boat launch, boat wash station, fishing, and a fish cleaning station. It is also a prime spot for bicyclists as the Oak Leaf Trail runs through the park.

Because of poor water quality and high levels of E.coli, the beach has long been regarded as one of the worst in the nation and has more closures than any other beach on the Great Lakes.

In 2015, according to a study done by the county, 65 percent of water samples collected exceeded the recreational water quality standards for E.coli. These issues are what cause the beach to regularly rank among the worst in the nation for water quality and number of bacterial related closures, including seven in June of this year.

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes
WATER Institute in 2008 showed that moving the beach 500 yards to the south would result in a 90 percent improvement in water quality, minimizing or eliminating beach closures.

The results of the 2013 “South Shore Beach Relocation Study” by consultants W.F. Baird and Associates suggested that the county spend $4.2 million constructing a second beach retention structure at the south end of the existing beach, as well as other improvements to the current location.

The changes were not made due to inadequate funding.

A section of the Oak Leaf Trail was moved to this newly constructed promenade along the water’s edge. The new trail location is safer and more scenic than the previous route through the parking lot. Benches are another of the new amenities that enhance the waterfront at South Shore Beach. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

Suggestions for moving South Shore Beach are the same today as in 2013 —runoff from the park and parking lot areas, excrement from gulls and other birds that occupy the beach’s sandbar, storm water runoff, sewage overflows, and a breakwater that limits exchange between water near the beach and the lake at large.“Because of where the beach is now, [with the water] trapped behind the break wall, there will always be problems because there is just not enough circulation,” said District 14 Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas.

Haas said if the beach were to be moved south near Texas Avenue, the biggest issue would be accessibility.

Another problem is birds. Wherever humans go, so do problematic gulls and other waterfowl, Organ said. Birds contribute to fouling the water with E.coli.

The county recently wrapped up a $3.7 million green infrastructure-improvement project at the site of the beach. Milwaukee County partnered with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, GLRI, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science, Wisconsin DNR, and the Fund for Lake Michigan.

The mini curb cut near the base of the sign allows boat water and rainwater to drain to the depression directly behind the curb. There, the water is filtered through the plants and soil to reduce lake pollution. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

Project improvements included dredging and upgrades to the boat launch, a new boat wash station, and native-plant landscaping. The existing parking lot was regraded and reconstructed. Rain gardens and bioswales were added to filter storm water runoff to reduce polluting the lake. A bird-inhabited sandbar was removed. A section of the Oak Leaf Trail was moved to a newly constructed promenade along the water’s edge that is safer and more scenic than the previous route through the parking lot.

These improvements might not be sufficient to meet clean beach water standards though, as indicated by the text of the RFP that stipulates a plan and design that includes the possible relocation of the beach.

Katherine Keller and Jennifer Kresse contributed to this report. 


TRAFFIC ALERT:South 1st Street Bascule Bridge Over the Kinnickinnic River to Close for Rehabilitation Project will begin July 10, 2017 and conclude in November 2018, weather permitting

July 7, 2017

The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) announces that the South 1st Street bridge over the Kinnickinnic River will close on Monday, July 10, 2017 for a rehabilitation project. This bridge project is expected to be completed in November 2018, weather permitting.

Vehicular and pedestrian traffic — please see the attached detour map below.

Kinnickinnic River navigation — Traffic on the Kinnickinnic River will be open during the navigational season. Work will be conducted with one (1) leaf of the bridge up and one (1) leaf down. Boaters should proceed with extra caution and be aware of temporary signing or navigational traffic controls during the construction process.

During the non-navigational season – Winter 2017/18 – the bridge will be inoperable with both leaves in the down position.

DPW and the United States Coast Guard staff thank the traveling public (vehicular, pedestrian, and maritime) for their patience during this bridge rehabilitation project, and advise them to add extra travel time and follow the detour signage when entering and leaving the neighborhood.

Read a detailed account of the project published in the December 2015 issue of the Bay View Compass.


Governor Walker Announces 35 Municipalities to Receive a Total of $13.8 Million to Remove Lead Service Lines

June 28, 2017

 Governor Scott Walker announced today that 35 municipalities have now completed financial assistance agreements with the state that will allow those communities to assist homeowners, schools, and day cares in providing safe drinking water by replacing old lead service lines.

These aging lead service lines extend from the main street pipes owned by local utilities onto private property and into homes, schools, and day care centers. The lines are the responsibility of the property owner who typically would have to pay for full lead service line removal. With this fiscal year’s funding package totaling $13.8 million, communities can help property owners fully replace those lines to provide safe drinking water for families and children.

The Lead Service Line Replacement Funding program reflects this administration’s commitment to safe drinking water and addresses the financial barriers facing communities where lead service lines continue to deliver drinking water to customers.

“Safe drinking water is critical to the health and well-being of everyone in Wisconsin, and this program is working to help address community needs,” Governor Walker said. “We applaud the work being done in communities across our state to identify old lead service lines and remove them.”

The DNR conceived the funding program last year following a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow the state greater flexibility in allocating loan funds for water infrastructure projects.  Under the program, municipalities determine how to distribute the funds. Funding for LSL replacement on private property is in the form of Principal Forgiveness (PF), which means no debt is incurred on behalf of the municipality for these funds.

“The lead service line replacement program represents one of the many ways DNR partners with communities to manage our water resources and protect public health,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “These cooperative efforts involving the state, local governments, and skilled private contractors serve as a model for what we can accomplish together.”

The 35 municipalities represent all parts of the state with Milwaukee receiving the largest award of $2.6 million. Another $13 million in lead service line replacement funding will be available in FY18 and 41 communities have indicated they will be filing applications.

Lead Service Line Replacement


DPW’s Streetcar construction progress update

June 27, 2017

Milwaukee Streetcar Construction Progress:  West St. Paul Avenue to Open in Both Directions Temporarily 

Track construction continues with limited access on N. Broadway, and roadway preparation/lane closures on N. Jackson St. 

City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) officials announce that work on West St. Paul Avenue as part of the Milwaukee Streetcar project will go on hiatus until Fall 2017. All lanes of traffic will be temporarily reopened during Summerfest to accommodate festival traffic, City officials said.

Streetcar construction, which began in early spring on W. St. Paul, continues to progress on schedule with construction crews laying track on additional area streets in various phases.

“We’ve intentionally arranged our project construction schedule to keep as many lanes open as possible in the downtown area during the festival season, with no Third Ward track construction planned until the fall,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban said.

“We have temporarily halted track work on W. St. Paul Ave. and reopened all lanes in both directions to traffic during Summerfest,” Korban said. “Motorists should feel free to drive in the lanes with the new streetcar tracks – our system is designed for cars and streetcars to share traffic lanes.”

Other construction activities along the route include:

? Track construction with lane closures is underway on N. Broadway between E. Clybourn and E. Kilbourn avenues. Traffic is reduced to a single southbound vehicle lane, and some intersections may be closed. Pedestrian access will be maintained on N. Broadway. Northbound motorists should use other nearby roads such as N. Milwaukee, N. Jefferson or N. Water streets.

? Crews have also begun track work on N. Jackson Street between E. Kilbourn and E. Ogden avenues, which is currently reduced to a single lane northbound.

? Some utility work is underway on E. Ogden Ave. and N. Milwaukee St., but a lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained.

“Motorists driving through the city should be aware that N. Broadway and N. Jackson currently have the most construction activity underway right now, and should plan their travels accordingly,” Korban said.

The construction team has been working closely with Summerfest to coordinate access to and from the festival through work zones. Festival-goers should PLAN a little extra travel time and visit the Summerfest website in advance for parking information, suggested travel routes, and public transit options:

summerfest.com/getting-here/

Source: City of Milwaukee Dept. Public Works press release


Hoan Bridge Safety Question Pursued

February 1, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Rep. Christine Sinicki met with Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials Jan. 20 in the aftermath of the Dec. 19 traffic fatality that took the life of 27-year-old Christopher Weber who was driving over the Hoan Bridge when his pickup truck plummeted from the bridge, landing on the pavement 50 feet below.

Icy road conditions are believed to have contributed to Weber losing control of his vehicle.

Sinicki said she has asked DOT officials to investigate the height of the Hoan’s barriers. She noted that prior to the redecking of the bridge, steel railings were attached to the top of the concrete barriers that increased the barrier height. Sections of the barriers that lead to the bridge on the northern section of I-794 still possess the railings.

DOT officials told Sinicki that a national group that tests and makes barrier recommendations said that even if the railings had been in place, it is possible they would not have prevented the truck from going over the barrier.

Sinicki said she’s requested engineering reports and options that would improve the bridge’s safety.

She noted that there was also a discussion about adding digital signs to the bridge approaches to warn drivers of unsafe conditions including ice and high winds.

DOT officials agreed to a follow-up meeting in the next six weeks or so, although Sinicki hoped it would be sooner. “In the meantime, I will continue to talk to county officials about snowplowing and look to see if there is a better, safer way to plow the bridge,” she said.

State Senator Chris Larson and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff also attended the meeting.

Weber was employed at Odd Duck, a restaurant in Bay View, at the time of his death.


Downtown Montessori Academy Students Crochet Mats for Homeless

December 1, 2016

Front row from left: LuLu Zarate, Gianna Meer, Isabella Jamel Second row from left: Owen Fisk, Lilly DenDooven, Leila Muhammad, Emma Volpe, Kennedy Schultz Third row from left: Roan Smith, Stella Crane, Breyonna Northway Back row from left: Kelsey McCarron, Elliott Fisk, Ava DenDooven, Diego DeHaan, Elena DeHaan, Jenny Urbanek

Front row from left: LuLu Zarate, Gianna Meer, Isabella Jamel
Second row from left: Owen Fisk, Lilly DenDooven, Leila Muhammad, Emma Volpe, Kennedy Schultz
Third row from left: Roan Smith, Stella Crane, Breyonna Northway
Back row from left: Kelsey Mccarran, Elliott Fisk, Ava DenDooven, Diego DeHaan, Elena DeHaan, Jenny Urbanek PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

Downtown Montessori Academy students learned to crochet to help the homeless, and at the same time, use up some of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags that plague the planet.

A group of 18 students ranging from Grade 4 to Grade 7 transformed 2,000 bags into two 3.5- by 6-foot sleeping mats and several sitting pillows for the homeless. They met for a total of 13 hours — twice a week between Oct. 4 and Nov. 17.
They cut plastic shopping bags into strips and tied them together to make long strips of plastic yarn or “plarn.”
Lower elementary teacher Kelsey McCarron and art teacher Jenny Urbanek taught the students to crochet with yarn before they tackled the plarn.

 

Plastic yarn (plain) is created from cutting plastic shopping bags into strips and tying them together. PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

Plastic yarn (plain) is created from cutting plastic shopping bags into strips and tying them together. PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

DMA students made plarn sleeping mats and sitting pillows to make winter a little more bearable for the homeless in Milwaukee. “The plarn sleeping mats provide a clean, dry, soft sleeping surface as well as an extra layer between the ground and the sleeper or sitter. They are water-resistant, insulating, lightweight, easy to wash, unlikely to harbor pests, and nearly indestructible,” said Urbanek.
The project helped improve students’ manual dexterity skills, but it also promoted “patience, self-control, creative problem-solving, empathy, and awareness regarding social issues in our community.”

The sleeping mats were donated to Hope House, a transitional living center on the near south side.


St. Francis Sisters of St. Francis Assisi plan new convent

December 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s plans to construct a new convent would preserve two of the original buildings, as well the newer ones. The majority of the oldest buildings would be demolished. Building that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court). Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s plans to construct a new convent would preserve two of the original buildings, as well the newer ones. The majority of the oldest buildings will be demolished.
Buildings that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court).
Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

 

Demolition has begun at the Marian Center for Nonprofits. The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi will build a new convent at the current site, 3195 S. Superior St.

Spokesperson Jean Merry said Groth Group of Milwaukee would design the new facility that would provide living quarters for 80 sisters and would include a kitchen and dining room. The motherhouse offices would also be moved to the new building. A convent’s motherhouse is often the founding building or main location of a religious order.

The century-old Marian Center buildings, that formerly housed St. Mary’s Academy and St. Clare College, presented mounting unsustainable maintenance costs and no longer meet the aging sisters’ basic health and safety needs.

Currently 40 sisters live in small rooms, inadequate for elder care, on the third and fourth floors of one of the other buildings is part of the demolition plan.

The sisters closed the Marian Center in May, 2016.

The center was created, after St. Mary’s Academy closed, to preserve the legacy of Loretto Hall, Rosary Hall, and Clare wing, three connected structures. Former classrooms were converted to offices for nonprofit organizations. According to the center’s website, “Loretto Hall was constructed in 1904 as St. Mary’s Academy, a high school for young women. Expansions in 1931 and 1935 created Rosary Hall and Clare Wing, to allow for the development of St. Clare College in 1937.”

Four years ago the sisters partnered with Milwaukee-based developer Cardinal Capital Management, Inc. to redevelop the Marian Center for Nonprofits into 44 affordable apartments. The plans were scuttled for the $10 million project when the partners were unable to secure sufficient financing.

COLOR CODE LEGEND
Building that would be preserved: Coral (St. Francis Chapel); Orange (Troubadour Meeting Room); Yellow (Juniper Court); Purple (Canticle Court).

Buildings that would be demolished: Blue (Marian Center/Loretto and Rosary Halls and Clare Wing); Turquoise (Power House); Green (Motherhouse); Pink (St. Elizabeth)

 


Coyote Watch — Get Involved

December 1, 2016

small-eastern-coyote-emdotMilwaukee County Parks and the Wisconsin DNR want you to help them collect information about coyote sightings to monitor the animals’ activity and behavior.

Additionally, Milwaukee County Parks wants you to help them inform others about the project. If you are a part of a neighborhood association, a member of one of the online Next Door Communities, or receive neighborhood updates through email or newsletters, they ask that you reach out to your neighbors and ask them to report coyote sightings in your neighborhoods and local parks.

The county is collaborating with the website iNaturalist.org to collect sightings data. If you see a coyote, report the observation to the Milwaukee County Coyote Watch project page: goo.gl/2kzCe2

Background

Coyote sightings in and near Milwaukee County neighborhoods are fairly common and are rarely a cause for concern, according to iNaturalist.org.

The animals are naturally very skittish and wary creatures that will avoid human contact by either running away, when encountered, or by restricting their activities to nocturnal hours. In some circumstances however, often in urban and suburban environments, coyotes may become habituated, losing their innate fear of humans.

Coyote stretching.            PHOTO courtesy Eric Kilby

Coyote stretching. PHOTO courtesy Eric Kilby

Habituation may result from food attractants in backyards, such as pet food, unsecured garbage, fallen fruit, etc., or repeated exposure to humans without negative consequences.

Behavior that may indicate a coyote has become habituated is if it is seen languishing in a park during the daytime in close proximity to humans, following humans and their pets, or not running away upon encountering people.

These bold behaviors associated with habituation are what can ultimately lead to human-coyote conflicts in urban areas. In order to proactively manage coyote behavior for a safe, sustainable, and long-term coexistence with these wild urban neighbors, it is of the utmost importance that county residents understand how human behavior and actions can influence them. The goal is to keep them wild and unhabituated to people.

Be Smart

Do not feed coyotes directly, or indirectly by leaving pet food, fallen fruit, fallen bird seed, etc. in your yard.

Reinforce the fear of humans when encountering a bold or habituated coyote. Chase and yell at the coyote and throw projectiles near the animal. If it is in your backyard, turn the hose on it.

For more information on proper hazing techniques provided by the Wisconsin Humane Society,
goo.gl/Qj7kjP or Milwaukee County, goo.gl/TQJS3b and http://county.milwaukee.gov/Coyotes9205.htm.

When walking your dog, keep it on a leash. If you see a coyote, use hazing techniques to scare it away.

If you have questions about the project or coyotes, contact Dianne Robinson, dianne.robinson@wisconsin.gov or Julia Robson: julia.robson@milwaukeecountywi.gov.

Coyote information above provided by iNaturalist.org


Tree controversy on Superior Street resolved?

August 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

Homeowners who live on the 2400 block of Superior Street between Russell and Potter avenues fear newly planted trees will block their view of Lake Michigan. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Homeowners who live on the 2400 block of Superior Street between Russell and Potter avenues fear newly planted trees in the greenspace on the northeast corner of Russell Avenue and Superior Street will block their view of Lake Michigan when the trees grow larger.    PHOTO Katherine Keller

The Forestry Division of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works has embarked on a campaign to plant new trees in public greenspaces to compensate for the reduction of the city’s ash tree canopy caused by emerald ash borer damage.

In Bay View, a ruckus arose among some homeowners in July when Forestry planted 30 trees in the greenspace bordered by Superior Street to the west and Russell Avenue to the south. Some residents feared their view of Lake Michigan would be blocked when the tree matured.

The greenspace where the new trees were planed is sometimes referred to as the “Rolling Mills memorial park” because it is the parcel of land where the Rolling Mill Tragedy historical marker is located.

There are seven homes in the 2400 block of south Superior, bounded by Russell and Potter avenues, that overlook the area where the saplings were planted. Zielinski said “about five of those homeowners” approached him to express their objection to the placement of eight of the new trees. Zielinski lives on the same block.

The homeowners wanted the objectionable sapling trees culled or relocated.

“My constituents told me they paid extra for the view of the lake,” Zielinski said. “They were upset with the trees. Trees are good but residents who are affected should be consulted before Forestry plants trees. It is standard DPW operating procedure that residents that are affected should be consulted before trees are planted.”

“I love trees. People love trees. I’ve helped save trees. I’ve fought to preserve greenspace. I was doing my job to respond to my constituents,” Zielinski said. “They don’t want a forest blocking their view.”

Zielinski went to bat for his disgruntled neighbors and contacted DPW officials. Despite his effort on behalf of his neighbors, Zielinski said DPW officials determined that newly planted eight trees would remain where they were planted and that his neighbors were not happy with that decision.

“Those trees are staying till further conversation. If we do decide to move them, it will be when they are dormant,” Zielinski said.

DPW Commissioner Ghassan Korban said that the Forestry Division is looking for sites in public greenspaces to plant trees in order to compensate for the ash trees that are being removed on private property. Some homeowners don’t replace the culled trees. To balance the loss, the city is locating open greenspaces on city land to plant more trees.

Korban said the negative reaction by the residents on Superior Street has “taught us to be more comprehensive in our assessment when deciding where to plant trees.”

He said that the policy to date has been to consult the homeowner when a tree in the terrace in front of a home is to be cut down or when a new tree is to be planted in front of a home in the terrace or boulevard. “More often,” he said, “we are replacing a tree due to health or age.” Forestry workers discuss the timing of the tree removal and the planting of a new tree with homeowners.

However, DPW’s policy to date has not included consulting residents who live near public municipal land concerning the planting/placement of new trees.

Now, in light of the upset on Superior Street, DPW will adjust its policy, said Korban.

“If we had to do this again, we would have consulted the residents. What this situation has taught us is to look around and see other perspectives,” Korban said.

DPW is planning to begin educating the public about Forestry’s policies and procedures concerning its efforts to increase and enhance the city’s canopy.

The Port of Milwaukee owns that land but the port is an arm of the city, Zielinski said.

Forestry is taking measures to protect ash trees on city land, including those in the terraces — the strip between sidewalk and curb, and boulevards, Korban said.


May 18 crime meeting — three individuals in police custody believed to be responsible for Bay View carjackings, vehicle theft spikes

May 19, 2016

Key info presented at the May 18 crime-info meeting at South Shore Park Pavilion

Meeting hosted by District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski said:

  • That all perpetrators of the three carjackings in Bay View are in police custody. It is believed that the two incidents in April in the alley behind Bay View Terrace and on Quincy Avenue were committed by the same two individuals. One of the alleged perpetrators is Shomeek Johnson. The other is a juvenile.
  • A different individual was arrested for the incident on Wentworth Avenue in February.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported “Shomeek L. Johnson, 18, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree reckless injury, both as a party to the crime.” The incident occurred April 24 on Good Hope Road.]

MPD District 6 Captain Diana Rowe’s presentation:

  • The captain presented a chart comparing (below) violent crime and property crime statistics for Bay View’s in District 6 from Jan. 1, 2007 to May 11, 2016. Dramatic increase in vehicle theft in Bay View this year. There have been 73 vehicle thefts to date in 2016.The highest number in the previous nine years was 30 in 2015.
  • One half of garage theft in 2016 occurred where garages were not locked.
  • Warned residents not to leave garage door remote in any visible place in the car, including the visor. Thieves will break into a car to access the remote.
  • Warned that Hondas and Toyota Corollas made in late 90s through early 2000s are prime target for thieves because they’re easy to break into. If you have two cars and one is one of these models, park that one in a locked garage, if possible. Advised that these models should be protected with a kill switch, club, or steering-wheel-column block.
  • Three main uses of stolen vehicles are joy ride, use in other crime such as robbery or theft, or heroin and other drug trafficking. Newer, larger are preferred for drug trafficking because the vehicle is fitted out with tinted windows and as a mobile drug unit. Drugs are delivered directly to customers or to a specific location, such a corner. Cars are not stolen to be chopped as they once were in Milwaukee in the past.
  • 70%-80% of stolen vehicles are recovered in the first couple of weeks after they are stolen. Of those, “not many are damaged.”
  • About 10% of the car thieves are caught. Even if there are identifiable fingerprints in a car, it’s still difficult to prove that the person who left the prints was the one who stole the vehicle. Need to be caught in the act to prosecute, in most cases.
  • Age of typical car thief in Milwaukee is 12 to 17.
  • In past three weeks in Bay View vehicle theft is down but that may be due to increased police presence in the three weeks after the carjacking on Quincy.
  • Perpetrators of the Bay View carjackings are not Bay View residents.

Crime Table.FINAL

John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney reported:

  • Shomeek Johnson is in police custody for the (alleged) shooting of the woman in the Quincy carjacking incident. He has been charged with a homicide that occurred previous to the carjacking.
  • Crimes in Bay View are concerning people but that the neighborhood is one of the safest areas in the city and nation.
  • A mamor concern is the car-related offenses. There are a small number of people engaging in this behavior. Five or six of his office’s investigators are working on the problem and they are working with suburban agencies since these crimes cross city and county borders.
  • Residents must be aware of their surroundings and that carjackers attack from behind, which also makes identification of the perpetrator difficult since the victim doesn’t see him/her.
  • “Opiate problem is a huge problem right now.”

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