It was a full house at Tuesday’s Oak Creek Watershed kickoff meeting at City Hall, and I want to thank everyone who attended to learn more about what the next two to three years will look like as we embark on this important work.
If you missed it, you can check out the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission presentation here.
Field work begins this summer, with the first of five more stakeholder meetings come up then too. And much, much more to come from there.
Indeed, we’re just getting started. But we’re getting started. And that’s a big deal.
Here are my remarks from last night … I mean every word of them. Let’s roll!
Good evening, and, on behalf of the city, welcome to South Milwaukee and the Oak Creek Watershed.
About 2/3 of our city sits in the watershed, including some of the most public-facing parts of that watershed, from the parkway to the Mill Pond to Grant Park … so, needless to say, we take revitalization and renewal of this resource very seriously. In many ways, our promising future depends on a healthy watershed. That’s why I’m so excited about today.
April 12, 2016. That’s the day we begin cleaning up the Oak Creek watershed for our kids, their kids, and their kids. Generations to come will benefit from what we’re doing here.
Of course, today is just the beginning.
Have a plan, work the plan. It’s the mentality the city has adopted around our ongoing work in updating our comprehensive plan and creating a first-ever downtown plan for South Milwaukee.
And it’s the mentality we’re adopting here.
Have a plan, work the plan. In other words, ensure that a plan is more than the words on a page. Commit to bringing it to life. This plan will give us the information we need to do just that.
Let the journey begin!
I want to close by thanking some of the partners who have made this happen …
- To Supervisor Jursik for her years of leadership in this area. While we’ll deeply miss her advocacy for the South Shore and the Oak Creek watershed, I am confident her replacement on the board will continue to carry this torch ….
- Thank you to the Parks Department, Director John Dargle and the county administration for their unwavering support in making this planning process a reality …
- To leaders from all six municipalities in the 28 square-mile watershed – including Oak Creek, Cudahy, Greenfield, Franklin and Greenfield — who publicly supported this from day one …
- To MMSD, as strong partners throughout this process. They are deeply committed to promoting clean watersheds across the region, and they are indeed putting their money where their mouth is as the planning project’s lead funding agency …
- Thank you to the Fund for Lake Michigan, which has awarded $125,000 in grants in the past year toward this plan and a separate study of watershed water quality …
- To SEWRPC, which has been part of these discussions from the start. I can’t think of a better organization to do this study …
- And, of course, thank you to our local citizen groups, including the Friends of the Mill Pond and Friends of Grant Park, as well as Restore the Lagoon. Without their passion and advocacy, none of this would be possible.
And finally, I want to thank everyone in this room.
My ask: Be part of this process. Be heard. This is your watershed, and everyone here has a stake in being sure it is restored to health and vibrancy once again.
Attend the public meetings. Offer your comments. Help shape the plan. Own the plan. Then, once the plan is approved, join me in getting behind it to drive real change.