Category Archives: Oak Creek watershed

Now, the Watershed Work Begins

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.

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Reminder: Watershed Plan Kickoff Meeting Set for April 12

Oak Creek Watershed Future Logo - 1

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March 28, 2016 · 5:00 pm

Beech Street Bridge Put In Place

IMG_2148 IMG_2149 IMG_2147

Good news for students, dog walkers, bikers and runners: The Beech Street foot bridge over Oak Creek was put in place on Monday.

According to Milwaukee County, “Work is progressing on the approaches today (Tuesday, Dec. 22).  The bridge is usable but still hard to get to without the approaches. … The bridge should be safely usable by Thursday.”

Paving the approaches and turf restoration will not occur until the spring.

Thanks to the Parks Department for their work in getting this done before Christmas, and to County Supervisor Pat Jursik for leading the charge to get this built as quickly as it is.

This bridge will stand the test of time, and it’s great to see the county’s continued investment in our parks and parkways.

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Approved: Oak Creek Watershed Restoration Plan To Begin In Early 2016

Oak Creek Parkway fall

What a watershed week for the future of the Oak Creek watershed.

In the past week, the South Milwaukee Common Council, Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Board all approved intergovernmental cooperation agreements for the creation of an Oak Creek watershed restoration plan.

Next: The beginning of the planning process itself in the first couple of months of 2016.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission will do the work, as it develops recommendations to improve water quality, recreational access and use, habitat conditions and targeted stormwater drainage and flooding issues. The status and future of the Mill Pond and dam will also receive special focus as part of the study.

It’s much-needed work that is too long in coming — about 30 years, to be exact. That’s how long it’s been since the watershed has received this kind of holistic planning focus. And I’m proud to help drive it.

Of course, patience is encouraged, as we take a long-term view in fixing the watershed.

The study will take more than two years to complete. My ask: Be heard, throughout.

There will be plenty of opportunities for public input, comment and reaction. In addition to regular meetings of a technical committee comprised of representatives from each watershed jurisdiction, there will be a number of stakeholder meetings for area residents, an open house and other chances to weigh in. More details to come on that early next year.

The study will cost $542,900, with MMSD contributing $280,000 of that — equal to the amount of watershed land mass in the sewerage district boundaries. SEWRPC is contributing $225,000 in-kind, while the remaining $18,950 shares will be paid by the City of South Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.

I have every confidence this will be money well spent, as it yields the information, science, context and road map we need to make decisions big and small in bringing the watershed back to life.

In other words, the work toward a cleaner and more vibrant Oak Creek watershed begins now. Dive in with all the partners who have come together to make this restoration plan a reality.

Let’s go.

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Filed under City Council, Milwaukee County, Oak Creek watershed, South Milwaukee

Beach Walk Saturday; Beach, Oak Creek Cleanups Also Set

Beach Walk flyer

Quick reminder about a few upcoming events in our parks …

  • First, check out the Grant Park Beach Walk Saturday night. There is a flyer above.
  • Then, on Sept. 19, it’s the beach cleanup event. Learn more here
  • And on October 10, it’s an Oak Creek cleanup. More details from the Friends of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse …

Set your calendar for Saturday October 10th, 2015 – we’ll be cleaning the Oak Creek from North Chicago Avenue west to Rawson Avenue.  (IF we have enough people we could continue to Nicholson Avenue)

We’ll be meeting at the North end of the SM High School parking lot. at 8:00 am and ending at 12:00 noon.  My car is a tan Hyundai Sonata with the license plate WUCK – this is where you’ll sign in, get a safety vest, bags, gloves and water.  Once everyone has signed in, we’ll take some pictures and give instructions.  We ask that adults be present with your groups, bring EXTRA CLOTHES, SHOES AND SOCKS in case you get wet or fall in.  We do have some boots that can be borrowed of if you have wader’s please bring them.  Milwaukee County Parts will pick up the bags along the route.

FOMP will host the luncheon at the Warming House after the cleanup.

 

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Filed under Grant Park, Oak Creek, Oak Creek watershed, Park, South Milwaukee

Steady Stream Of Progress For The Oak Creek Watershed

Waterfall

Momentum continues to build toward sustainable, long-term solutions for the Oak Creek watershed.

Two key things happened this week in our ongoing work to clean up the watercourse and set us on a path to a healthier, more vibrant watershed, one that we and our kids our kids’ kids can be proud of.

  • First, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council — a group comprised of each mayor and village president in the county — unanimously endorsed this week a resolution in support of the development of an Oak Creek watershed restoration study. You can see the resolution they endorsed here. It’s similar to the one endorsed by the South Milwaukee City Council in May, and it reinforces how much broad support there is for what we’re doing here. I thank my colleagues for their support. Next up: Securing funding for a January 1, 2016, start, and we’re working hard to make that happen.
  • Also this week, the Fund for Lake Michigan announced $107,500 in grant funding for a water quality testing initiative in the Oak Creek watershed. The Racine Health Department is leading these efforts, and I can’t thank our neighbors to the south enough for stepping up here. Testing has already begun, and that data will be instrumental in informing the watershed restoration study to come, and in efforts to improve Lake Michigan water quality. Here is the Fund for Lake Michigan news release, which details $1.9 million in overall funding for 27 projects across the region. I thank the Fund for their strong support.

And that’s not all. We’re also making investments in the creek today, from the upcoming replacement of the Beech Street Bridge to installation of new fascia underneath the Milwaukee Avenue bridge to vegetation removal in the channel near 15th and Milwaukee.

None of this would happen alone. MMSD, the county, communities across the region, grant funding agencies like the Fund for Lake Michigan, Friends groups and more … they’re all uniting around this common cause. And that’s what has me so excited.

Here’s to a cleaner Oak Creek!

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Progress Toward Long-Term Solutions For The Oak Creek Watershed

Oak Creek parkway

I am excited for the future of the Oak Creek watershed, and we’re making progress toward what I consider a key part of its long-term health and vibrancy: a watershed restoration plan.

The goal: Develop a plan that will guide future actions and investment across the watershed, giving us the information we need to make a real difference in bringing this environmental, ecological and recreational resource back to life.

As you may recall, leaders and other key stakeholders from each of the communities, governmental bodies and other organizations in the 28-square-fmile watershed met in January to discuss a potential plan. At the meeting, we gave feedback to the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission so they could provide a scope of work.

That scope of work is now back, and you can see it here.

It lays out a clear case for why a plan is necessary – including some of the problems that need addressing, and how we can get to workable solutions for the long term. The four focus areas will be around:

  • Water quality;
  • Recreational access and use;
  • Habitat conditions, and
  • Targeted stormwater drainage and flooding issues.

In addition, the scope document states, the status of the Mill Pond and the associated dam would be addressed considering their relationship to multiple focus issues.

The most important deliverable for me: “The watershed restoration plan will present implementation strategies, estimate the amount of technical and financial assistance needed for implementation and the associated costs, identify the authorities that will be relied upon to implement the plan, and identify potential sources of technical and financial assistance for plan implementation.”

In other words, this plan will deliver a comprehensive list of projects we should tackle across the watershed to ensure its long-term vitality. And it will provide us a path to address them.

It won’t be cheap. The restoration plan as proposed comes in at more than $500,000. But this is the cost of the holistic approach we’ve been lacking in this debate for decades. (The last similar study was done in the late 1980.)

Leaders representing some of the key potential plan funders — me, Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik and Parks Director John Dargle and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Executive Director Kevin Shafer — and Mike Hahn from SEWPRC met recently to discuss coordination, a path toward implementation and potential funding strategies.

It was a very positive discussion. We will meet again.

We will also be seeking grant funding for the plan, such as is being done with a related Oak Creek watershed water quality data testing effort being proposed by the Racine Health Department.

I ask for your continued support of this process and pledge to keep you posted as we move ahead. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.

The public will remain a key part of the process throughout, and will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in as we look to move ahead with the plan. That commitment to public involvement, outreach and education will also continue during the actual planning effort, as we’d bring on a third-party group focused on just those activities. You can learn more in the scope of work.

Ultimately, any funding strategy will require approval by the boards and councils of all the entities, and we’ll work toward that in coming months.

As I’ve written about, this is important work for South Milwaukee, and the entire watershed. I believe more than ever that this is the right path to take here.

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