Tag Archives: Mill Pond

Celebrating Our Parks: Several Cool Events Coming Up

Mill Pond winter

Just a reminder that the Restore the Lagoon group is holding its fundraising festival this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the Mill Pond on Oak Creek Parkway.

Enjoy food, drinks, live music, a silent auction, a kids’ corner and more for this second-annual event. Check out a flyer and more information on Restore efforts on the Restore the Lagoon Facebook page.

Also, our local Friends groups are planning several special events in September …

  • September 12: Grant Park Beach Walk, 5-9 p.m. Enjoy a lighted walk on the beach, music, s’mores and more.
  • September 19: Grant Park Beach cleanup. 9-11 a.m. Learn more here.
  • September 26: Mill Pond Warming House open house, noon to 4 p.m. Celebrate restoration efforts with food, raffles and more.

Learn more about the beach walk and open house here.


Filed under Grant Park, Mill Pond, Milwaukee County, 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

Mill Pond Warming House Renovations Underway

10613797_10203475411439607_1824612871_n10615810_10203475410279578_1989953874_nIn case you’ve missed it, there are some big changes happening at the Mill Pond Warming House.

Here is the update from Janet Cook, of the Friends of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse …

The Warming House is getting a much needed makeover.

The Friends of the Mill Pond have replaced the old doors with steel ones, the ceiling has been sanitized and freshly painted, ceiling fans installed, electrical upgrades done and now the outside is getting a new face. Windows are being worked on and then the entire building will be freshly painted.

The Friends of the Mill Pond will be hosting an “Open House” on September 27th from 1-4 p.m.

Thanks to the Friends for all their work on restoring this community icon.


Filed under Mill Pond, Parks, South Milwaukee

Jursik Publishes News Update … Including An Oak Creek Watershed Update

Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik has published her latest E-Update, including this update on the Oak Creek watershed …

On October 17, the City of South Milwaukee hosted the group from Watershed Initiative Network (WIN); I thank Mayor Zepecki for hosting this meeting at city hall. While WIN largely discussed the Root River Watershed which does partially include areas within South Milwaukee, this discussion revealed what can take place regarding study and clean-up of a watershed area. Many active citizens also attended including the great volunteers from Friends of Grant Park and Friends of Mill Pond including former Alderman Mary Nelson, a tireless advocate for dredging the pond. This discussion highlighted the need for all neighbors living in a watershed to take responsibility for keeping our streams and lakes clean. Simple activities such as keeping yard waste from draining into storm waters or ensuring that oil or gasoline leaks from older cars do not foul our roadways which then get washed into the storm sewers and empty into the creek are examples. Before dredging of the Mill Pond can be done, we first need to address silt and toxicant washouts upstream. The county capital budget for 2015 does plan for a stream bank initiative for the Oak Creek. To realize the dream of the many citizens that signed the Petition for the Mill Pond restoration, all of the issues surrounding this watershed must be addressed.

I also attended this meeting and was happy to hear of plans for the WIN group to do a more detailed study on the Oak Creek watershed in coming years. I strongly support this effort — and look forward to better days for this watershed, including and especially the Mill Pond.  I hope the city will help lead the way.

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Filed under Milwaukee County

Mill Pond Update: DNR Requires Dam Upgrades

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has ordered some upgrades be made to the Mill Pond Dam, according to the monthly newsletter from Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik.

They are:

  • the removal of vegetation from specific areas under the supervision of an engineer;
  • the maintenance of healthy grass cover on the embankments;
  • a structural evaluation by an engineer of the spillway abutments to determine if masonry repairs are required;
  • the repair of the sluice gate, which is currently inoperable; and
  • the installation of two benchmarks.

Check out the full newsletter here.

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Filed under Milwaukee County, Parks

Dredging Up Positive Memories: Debating The Future Of The South Milwaukee Mill Pond

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a story on the effort of former Alderwoman Mary Nelson — and many others — to “Restore the Magic” of South Milwaukee’s Oak Creek Mill Pond.

Check it out here. Among the new information in the article …

Cost of dredging the pond and disposing of the sediment starts at $830,400 and climbs as high as $1.5 million, according to preliminary estimates from the county’s Department of Administrative Services and released by Jursik. She represents the 8th supervisory district, encompassing St. Francis, South Milwaukee, Cudahy and a portion of Oak Creek.

State and federal grants could help pay part of the dredging costs, she said. …

The state Department of Natural Resources last week ordered Milwaukee County to complete some long-neglected dam maintenance and hire an engineer to evaluate the structure by June 2014.

The dam is made of dolomite stone blocks and it stands 18 feet tall in a ravine at Mill Road, according to DNR water management engineer Tanya Lourigan in Milwaukee. Water from the shallow pond spills over the top of the 35-foot-wide stone wall.

On Oct. 26 and Nov. 19, Lourigan inspected the dam and earthen embankments on each end.

An engineering analysis of the wall is needed since stones are missing on each end of the dam where it meets the embankment, Lourigan said in a Nov. 27 report to the county Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture.

Among the maintenance to be completed by June 2014: remove all trees and brush, including stumps, from the embankments and fill in holes; and repair an inoperable sluice gate needed to raise or lower water levels on the pond. A valve controlling the gate must be tested annually in the future to ensure it will work in an emergency, such as creek flooding, or for dam repairs, Lourigan says in the report.

She rated the condition of the dam as “conditionally fair” because of the extensive tree growth on the embankments, deterioration of the masonry wall and inoperable valve.

Where do I stand on this? My previous post on the petition effort sums up my position.

I feel strongly about this issue. I hate to see the Mill Pond and its surroundings in the state they are in. They could be so much more, and they have been so much more in the past.

We need a path to making the Mill Pond a recreational treasure for South Milwaukee once again, a community gathering place. That’s why I am 100% behind all of the work being done by Pat Jursik, Mary Nelson and others to find a solution here — one that involves the city, county, Friends groups and other parties. It’s complicated, and likely costly, but I think an investment in the Mill Pond is a good one — and one that is long overdue.

What do you think? Post your comments below!


Filed under Community, Milwaukee County, Parks

Fighting To Save The Mill Pond

More than 1,800.

That’s how many signatures were on petitions a group of citizens submitted to the City Council and Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik last week asking for the Mill Pond to be dredged – returning the waterway to its past glory.

Former Alderwoman Mary Nelson made the presentation to the council, and she offered a few words in support of the effort to restore the Mill Pond. Her message: The pond is an important part of South Milwaukee’s heritage and needs to be dredged so it can be brought back to its former beauty and use as a recreational attraction (including ice skating).

Mayor Tom Zepecki also spoke briefly, saying the city can play a role in doing so, but the Mill Pond is county property, and the county must lead on any improvements – including what could be a $1 million dredging project that may not last a decade.

Jursik’s message to the council: Addressing the Mill Pond is a complex issue – a “community decision” and a “shared responsibility” involving the county, city and others.

She stressed her role in trying to bring units together in the past couple years to deal with the short- and long-term future of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek watercourse – a future that may or may not involve saving the pond, or dredging it. Jursik noted that the Wisconsin Department Natural Resources has an order to remove the dam, but it’s not being acted on it, and the most recent attempt to dredge in the late 1990s was poorly done and did not last long.

A broader watershed plan is necessary, Jursik said, and that’s where the focus should be, as well as with Oak Creek bank restoration. (Jursik has helped secure $267,000 toward this purpose in the county’s current capital budget.)

So, where do I stand? I strongly support restoring the vitality of Oak Creek and the Mill Pond and making it a community attraction once again. It’s not now. The Mill Pond should be a source of South Milwaukee pride. Now, it’s an eyesore, in desperate need of improvement.

I credit the Friends of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse for what they’ve done to try and stem the decline and begin restoration efforts. And I thank folks like Mary Nelson and Pat Jursik for driving the dialog here. It’s one we need to have.

But what we need now are facts … a detailed look at options for the Mill Pond and Oak Creek that will help drive decisions around what the solution looks like and who pays for what.

The key question that needs to be answered: What is the collective vision for the Mill Pond and Oak Creek, and how do we get there?

It’s a debate I – and apparently more than 1,800 others — look forward to because something needs to be done. That’s something we can all agree on.

Of course, I’d like to know what you think about this. What role should the city play in making improvements at the Mill Pond? Post your comments below.


Filed under Community, Milwaukee County, Oak Creek

Reminder: Heritage Days Parade Saturday … And A Location Change For The Duck Race

Heritage Week continues with our annual parade today (Saturday).

The parade starts at 11 a.m. It begins at 12th and Milwaukee Avenues, heads west to 16th Avenue, turns north and ends at Lionsfest, which continues through Sunday (Family Day).

Also, be sure to check out the Friends of Oak Creek Watercourse and Mill Pond annual Duck Race starting at 2 p.m. at 15th and Milwaukee Avenues — not the Mill Pond. Please note the change from previous years.

See a full list of Heritage Days events here, and I’ll see you on the parade route!

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Filed under Community