Category Archives: Milwaukee County

Beech Street Bridge Update: Working Hard Toward A Replacement

Not surprisingly, there are lots of folks wondering “what’s next?” for the Beech Street foot bridge over Oak Creek. I am one of those people, and continue to press the county for action.

Here is an update from County Supervisor Patricia Jursik …

The Parks Department has gotten initial estimates on the bridge replacement. The figure is in the ball park of $150,000. The bridge can no longer just be repaired as it was last time in 2010 when the flood washed it out. It will now need new bridge footings.

We have been exploring how to pay for this cost since it was not in the county budget. The Parks Department has said they do not have “cash” to pay for this. Parks is exploring whether there may be excess funds available in our capital budget. (This occurs when we borrow for other projects that do not cost as much as planned. Typically the county has excess funds in almost every year because of the amount of borrowing we do in both Parks and Highway among others.) The good news is that replacement of a bridge is an appropriate project to use capital funds (IRS rules).  

I know the City of South Milwaukee would like this bridge replaced ASAP since there are so few routes across the creek for the subdivision in question.  There is an estimate from the schools that about 200 children live in the subdivision and need to have access to a crossing without going to either Rawson or College.  

If county officials can be convinced this is an emergency need, there could be an argument to get cash out of the county’s contingency funds, and it could be done without going through a lengthy RFP process. Without this classification, all projects must go through standard channels that require an RFP. If the county must go through our standard procedure, it will be nearly impossible to get this done by September. As it stands now, we should be signing contracts and getting the work started immediately to meet a September deadline.  

So, where do we go from here? Supervisor Jursik pledges to continue to push hard to get this repaired as soon as possible, and I will stand beside her in making this case with the county executive and others.

We both know how important this bridge is, not just for school traffic, but for all of the recreational users of the Oak Creek Parkway – from joggers to bicyclists to dog walkers.

We will keep you updated throughout the work to replace it.

Also of concern are reports that people (especially kids) are going around the barricades and using the closed (and unsafe) bridge anyway. I have asked the county to step up efforts to prevent this. While the closure is frustrating, we can’t have people ignoring the signage and attempting to cross the bridge. It’s too dangerous.

We ask for patience. This bridge must be fixed for the long term, and done the right way.


Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

For The Love Of Birds, And South Milwaukee

Green Heron Bay-breasted Warbler Cape May Warbler Black-throated Green Warbler

Consider it another reason to love South Milwaukee …

Bird enthusiasts will tell you our fair city is a bird watcher’s paradise.

To celebrate our feathered friends, a first-ever “Birds of a Feather Day” has been scheduled for Sunday, May 17.

From Rita Wiskowski, local bird enthusiast (and photographer for those images of warblers above) …

Friends of the Mill Pond & Oak Creek Watercourse, along with Friends of Grant Park, Wisconsin Metro Audubon Society, and the U.S. Forest Service with the support of the City of South Milwaukee, are hosting a fun and educational event to promote the understanding and appreciation of birds and their habitat.

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place at the Warming House on the Mill Pond in South Milwaukee (the corner of Mill Road and Oak Creek Parkway). There will be activities for all ages starting with a bird walk at Grant Park at 8 am (beginning at Picnic Area 9) where birders of all levels are welcomed.

Please bring a pair of binoculars and wear comfortable hiking clothes and shoes. Starting at 9 am another bird walk led by an experienced birder and geared towards more novice birders will meet at the Mill Pond. If you don’t have binoculars for the 9 am walk, you may borrow a pair. From 10 am to noon the Warming House will be open with many fun activities and informational displays for all ages and interest levels. Please join us.

For more information visit or call Rita Wiskowski at (414) 766-0760 /

Birds of a Feather Day Activities

  • 8 am. Bird Walk, starting at Wil-O-Way (Picnic Area 9) at 8 am. Participants will need to bring their own binoculars. A slow and easy walk, but may last a couple of hours. Wear comfortable hiking shoes.
  • 9 am. Bird Walk, starting at the Mill Pond at 9 am. Will last an hour. A slow and easy walk. Wear comfortable hiking shoes. Participants may borrow binoculars.

Warming House Activities (10 am to noon)

  • Binocular/Bird Watching Station: Participants will learn how to use binoculars to find and identify birds.
  • Bird Fact Station (Jen Ambrose will work the table): Information station on protecting birds and their habitat, birds in Wisconsin, eliminating bird hazards, etc.
  • Coloring Book Station: Bird related coloring for youngest participants.
  • Bird Olympics Station: Fun kid-friendly activities that also teach lessons about birds.
  • Owl Pellet Station: Our volunteer experts will teach participants about owls, dissect pellets, and ID the bones.
  • Vendor Table: Fun bird related items, and eco-friendly items will be for sale to help support future Birds of a Feather Days.

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Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

Beech Street Foot Bridge Closed Indefinitely

Beech Street bridge

Some bad news for students walking to South Milwaukee Middle and High School, and those who love walks and bike rides along Oak Creek Parkway: The Beech Street foot bridge over Oak Creek has been closed indefinitely and may need to be completely replaced.

That’s the word from the Milwaukee County Parks Department, who called me late this afternoon. Workers were closing it down this evening.

A citizen alerted me to a concern over the bridge swaying late last week, and I informed County Supervisor Pat Jursik. The county had engineers inspect it today, when the order was issued after they deemed it “structurally unsafe.”

The county tells me it’s likely the bridge will have to be fully replaced, so be prepared for a long closure.

Of course, this is not the first time this bridge has had issues. Still, we appreciate your patience, and we will know more about next steps in coming days and weeks. I’ll keep you posted.


Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

Get Your “Go Pass” In Cudahy, South Milwaukee

A note from Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik …

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is offering alternative community locations to assist with “GO PASS.”

The “GO Pass,” which was mandated by the County Board of Supervisors, allows all Milwaukee County residents 65 and older unlimited free rides on MCTS buses. The free pass will also be available for residents with disabilities who meet certain requirements. The designated dates and locations for our District 8 are as follows:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Warnimont-Kelly Center

6100 S. Lake Drive, Cudahy

9:00 AM – 2:00 PM 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grobschmidt/South Milwaukee Senior Center

2424 15th Avenue, South Milwaukee

9:00 AM -2:00 PM

For more information please click:


Filed under Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

Cleaning Up Grant Park, And South Milwaukee

Cleanup 1 Cleanup 2 Cleanup 3 Cleanup 4What a turnout at today’s Grant Park cleanup!

More than 80 people took part, including 60 from the South Milwaukee boys’ track team and another dozen or more from Marquette University and their Hunger Clean Up effort. Thanks to the Friends of Grant Park for all of their work in keeping this community treasure beautiful.

And our cleanup work is just getting started.

Don’t forget about next Saturday’s Earth Day cleanup, held around the city. Learn more here, and bring a friend, three or five. Big groups are welcome — there is plenty of work to do!

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Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

More On The Grant Park Volleyball Plans


Update: Here is a link to the press release.

Milwaukee County issued a press release today with more details on the volleyball coming to Grant Park Beach this summer.

From the Fox 6 story

Cities and Sports, a premier sport and social club in Chicago, will bring its expertise in organizing leagues to the beach. The group will program leagues and tournaments at 14-18 volleyball courts.

When not in use for league and tournament play, the courts will be available to the public to use for free on a first-come, first-served basis; during these times, players will need to bring their own volleyballs.

Ten-week leagues will run Sunday-Friday, from June 1 to the first week of September and will feature coed and men’s leagues for teams of two, four, and six players. Three levels of play will be offered— from recreational to a level for those who are highly skilled and can run combination plays.

Online registration, going on now, allows individuals, a few friends who would like to play together, and teams to be placed into leagues. Early-bird rates are available through Saturday, May 2.

Learn more and sign up here. Let’s fill these leagues!

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Filed under Grant Park, Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

Reminder: Meet With Me, And Supervisor Jursik, On Saturday

Just a quick reminder about this Saturday’s Meet the Mayor event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at I Can’t Resist Kids’ Resale, 915 Milwaukee Ave.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik will be joining me as a special gust.

Then, on Saturday, May 30, State Rep. Jessie Rodriguez will be joining me at Nona’s Café, 2206 10th Ave.

Bring your questions, comments or concerns, or just stop by, say hi and check out these terrific local businesses.

Thanks again to Becky and Ida for hosting these events, and to Pat and Jessie for joining me!

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Filed under Local Business, Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

Honoring A South Milwaukee Hero

WetzelWetzel 3Wetzel 2

“I’m just a caretaker, a soldier doing his job.”

Those are the humble words of a real hero, South Milwaukee resident Gary Wetzel. Gary, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War, was named Milwaukee County Veteran of the Year today and had a street sign and monument dedicated in his honor. I was honored to be a small part of the ceremony — and am incredibly thankful for his sacrifice and the sacrifice of all our veterans. We should all be thankful for their service, not just today but every day.

Thanks for calling South Milwaukee home, Gary


Filed under Community, Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

June 16-28: Beer Garden Arrives At Grant Park

Milwaukee County Parks unveiled its 2015 Mobile Beer Garden schedule today, and it includes a stop at Grant Park June 16-28.

Mark your calendars!

From the release

At least 15 parks will be on the tour. Each stop will feature beer and other refreshments from Sprecher Brewing and, new this year, there will also be authentic German Food available from Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub.

The Traveling Beer Garden concept was unveiled by County Executive Abele in 2014 and was a huge success, raising nearly $250,000 and creating a fun and safe atmosphere at all the parks it visited. Beer gardens at Estabrook, Humboldt and Hoyt Parks raised another $180,000 in 2014.

All the revenue the County receives from the beer gardens goes back into improving parks across Milwaukee County.  In addition to the revenue earned by the Beer Gardens, Sprecher Brewing, through the Park People of Milwaukee County, will be donating $32,000 or approximately $2,000 per tour stop for improvements to parks this summer. …

The Traveling Beer Gardens will feature both Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub, and Sprecher Brewing products. Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub, located in Glendale’s Bayshore Town Center, will offer authentic German food on the tour, including brats. Also available at the beer garden will be Sprecher Brewing products such as root beer floats, pizza, popcorn, and pretzels.

Indeed, 2015 will be a great year for Grant Park. The Beer Garden is just the start.

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Filed under Grant Park, Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

Welcome To Wil-o-Way

20150122_163320WilowayI had a nice visit this week with Mike, Debbie, Nicci and Harrison, who have brought Adult Day Services of Southeast Wisconsin to Wil-o-Way Grant. They just began programming earlier this month.

What do they do? They provide day programming for those with cognitive disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and autism at the Grant Park location. I’ll let Program Director Nicci Nageotte explain more …

We combine activities such as crafts, music, reading, dance and exercise, and cooking with outdoor activities such as walking and exploring  to help individuals learn more about themselves and things they might like to do but have never tried. We then add in the community component with “outings” for movies, lunch, the library- things they may have limited access to in their home lives. The volunteering help them learn skills that help with future employment (some attend work programs part time)  and also give them the satisfaction of doing things to help others.

It’s a terrific mission, and I wish them well at their new location. They just started at Wil-o-Way Grant this month, and they have capacity to serve 40 individuals. For now, they are under 10.

I was also happy to get a tour of the Milwaukee County facility, which is impressive. Recently remodeled and essentially empty during the day the past two years, it includes a large open hall with a stage, a kitchen, accessible outdoor play area and even a solarium.

For me, this has always been a hidden part of Grant Park, even though I’m told it is often rented out on weekends for events. It was nice to get a glimpse inside — and to learn more about the work of its new tenant.

Learn more about Adult Day Services here. Thanks for calling South Milwaukee home.

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Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks, South Milwaukee

Planning For The Future Of The Oak Creek Watershed

Few issues inspire as much passion in South Milwaukee as the Mill Pond. And rightfully so.

This is an iconic piece of our city’s history, an environmental and recreational — and, at one time, economic — resource that has touched thousands of lives over decades.

Ice skating, hot chocolate at the Warming House, first kisses behind the island. Graduation photos near the waterfall. Boating. Fishing. Many of you reading this I am sure have lifelong memories of the Mill Pond and what it used to be.

But this once-proud institution has fallen on hard times. It needs some love, attention and, ultimately, significant investment.

It also needs an effort, I’d argue, that goes well beyond the Mill Pond.

That is why I’m proud to say we’re making progress toward an Oak Creek Watershed study – a plan that takes a holistic look at the 28 square miles of land that ultimately drains into Oak Creek.

Yes, this is about much more than the Mill Pond.

As you can see in this map, the watershed encompasses parts of South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Franklin, Greenfield, Cudahy and Milwaukee, including the southern part of Mitchell International Airport. Of course, Milwaukee County is a key player here, as so much of the watershed in South Milwaukee is parkland, as is the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. And so are the passionate and dedicated local groups who have made the Oak Creek watercourse and the Mill Pond their mission: the Friends of the Mill Pond and Restore the Lagoon. Both should get credit for the work they’ve done to invest in watercourse and Mill Pond health.

All are partners in this effort. All are welcome at the table.

Earlier this month, Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik and I organized a meeting of these and other key watershed stakeholders to begin dialog around doing an Oak Creek watershed study. The meeting provided the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission — which would conduct the study in partnership with a third-party group focused on education and outreach – with feedback on just what the planning effort should entail. Now, SEWRPC will be coming back to us in coming weeks with a scope of work and cost estimates for what will likely be a two-year study.

Indeed, these restoration plans are no small undertaking.

They are comprehensive efforts that take a scientific approach to watershed health, ultimately delivering clear recommendations around the environmental, aesthetic, engineering and recreational enhancements we need to make to Oak Creek.

Such a comprehensive watershed plan hasn’t been done in almost 30 years, and I’d argue we can not — nor should not — spend significant dollars in improving the health and vibrance of this waterway without having the scientific data and community input that this process will yield. A plan will also give clear recommendations and cost estimates for projects up and down the creek, and then we can move ahead with the heavy lifting necessary to make improvements.

Of course, this approach will include a detailed look at options for the Mill Pond and the dam. It has to.

Should the dam stay? Should it go? Is there some middle ground? And, if it does stay, what might that area look like? My vision: Ice skating in the winter, paddle boats and kayaks in the summer, buying ice cream and hot chocolate at the Warming House, more accessible and higher quality fishing, nature trails, a clear connection with downtown. But that’s just my vision.

We need a collaborative approach here – one informed by what the study. Doing it this way will ensure we know how improvements to one part of the creek impact the entire watershed, the pond and dam included. It will force answers to some hard questions. It will get us thinking about the broader picture, about how upstream changes might impact the creek downstream, and vice versa.

Then, once we’ve begun to answer those questions, the real work starts.

Plans can’t sit on shelves and collect dust. We’ve all seen too many of those. This plan, any plan, needs the right people to act on its recommendations. It takes political will. That is why I promise to partner with other stakeholders to take the results of the study and push to bring its recommendations to life through investment in the watershed. We can’t go it alone. Nor should we.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be cheap. It won’t happen overnight.

But this approach will ultimately deliver what’s best for the entire watershed.

Supervisor Jursik started this work several years ago, and I give her significant credit for doing so. She is a passionate advocate for the South Shore and continues to provide strong leadership here.

Going forward, I’m proud to join her in playing a role to move us ahead … ultimately helping lead us to a more promising future for the entire Oak Creek Watershed, South Milwaukee included.

Stay tuned.


Filed under Mill Pond, Milwaukee County, Oak Creek, Parks, South Milwaukee

2015: A Big Year For Grant Park

Oh deer 2Reposting this due to an issue with a link.

A repaved Oak Leaf Trail. An appearance by the Mobile Beer Garden. Beach upgrades.

I am excited to see the work Milwaukee County is doing to invest in Grant Park.

This is such an iconic part of South Milwaukee, a symbol of both of our proud past and promising future. And I can’t think of a more promising year for the park than this year.

Learn more in the press release … and stay tuned for even more news this spring.

Thanks to Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik, County Executive Chris Abele, the Friends of Grant Park and everyone else for their continued focus on enhancing the county’s second-largest park. I proudly stand behind their efforts. They are making a difference.

(I took that photo  in Grant Park after a recent snowstorm, when the park looked magical in a coat of freshly fallen snow.)


Filed under Grant Park, Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

Reminder: Meet Me (And County Executive Chris Abele) On Saturday

Just a quick note that my next Meet the Mayor session is this Saturday, Nov. 15, at Mears Online Auctions, located in the old St. Mary’s Hall at 1234 Manitoba Ave. in South Milwaukee.

And I’ll be joined from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by a special guest: Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Thanks to Mears for hosting the event. You’ll be amazed at what owner Troy Kinunen has done with the place. The coolest part — a “mini Cooperstown” (my term) museum that features sports and other collectibles that will blow your mind.

Questions, comments, concerns … all are welcome. And thanks to County Executive Abele for being a part of this.

See you Saturday!


Filed under Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

South Shore Option 3.0: Local Economic Development Event Set For Monday

From Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik, the strongest advocate for the South Shore I know … I look forward to presenting on Monday and hope to see you there!

Supervisor Patricia Jursik, Chair of the Economic Development Committee for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, along with the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, will host the 3rd Economic Development Forum, South Shore Option, featuring new and planned economic development projects in the Cities of St. Francis, Cudahy, South Milwaukee and Oak Creek, the four South Shore communities.

“Our South Shore is becoming one of the most dynamic areas in Milwaukee County for economic growth and development,” Supervisor Jursik said. The Forum will feature economic development presented by each of the city’s development managers. “It will be an informative program for citizens to hear not only from their own community but also the neighboring communities.” Developers will also be invited to gauge the dynamic opportunities available along the South Shore of Milwaukee County

  • When: November 17, 2014
  • Where: St. Francis Civic Center, 3400 E. Howard Avenue, St. Francis WI 53235
  • Time: 6:30 p.m.
  • Who: City Mayors or Development Directors and Supervisor Patricia Jursik
  • What: Development Forum to report both new and planned development

Here is the full press release.

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Filed under Development, Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee

County Budget Update: Money For Grant Park Trails, Oak Creek And More

County Executive Chris Abele’s budget includes some strong support for the South Shore and South Milwaukee.

Now, there are still lots of moving parts with this process as the Milwaukee County Board weighs the document and makes its own changes, but things look promising for our fair city.

Check out details on the proposed budget here. And County Supervisor Patricia Jursik has her take on it in her newly published newsletter. From the newsletter …

New for District 8

  • $378,500.00 is provided for remediation of the Warnimont Park site that has once been used as a dump site. Our ancestors did not always consider the consequences of using a natural ravine as a place to dump garbage. Even today, illegal dumping takes place in our parks. Please report any sighting of trash/ rubbish dumping of any kind.
  • $324,000 continues to be the funding planned for the Oak Creek stream bed stabilization in 2016. This must first be done before looking at dredging of the pond. However, the Parks Department is spending $10,000 to test the silt to understand if it is contaminated which would impact the cost.

Bike Trail Replacement

District 8 will benefit from $500,000 for Sheridan/Warnimont trail replacement which is still pending from 2014 projects plus a new $830,000 for Grant Park. Both projects should be done at the same time. Our trails are among the oldest in the system.

Bus Route Extension

Route 80 on Howell Avenue will be extended to provide service to the future Drexel Town Square. The City of Oak Creek has been requesting an extension and my office was proud to move this request forward. Our Route 55 on Layton will intersect with Route 80 at Layton and Howell Avenues. Bus riders can now connect to Woodman’s, Target, and Kohls in Oak Creek. In addition, persons 65 and older or persons with disabilities, with a valid ID or Medicare card, are now eligible for free-fare rides.

There is a public hearing on the budget at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I will keep you posted.


Filed under Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee