Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are the Milwaukee County Grounds the right place for UWM?

Construction of the flood detention basins
on the County Grounds in 2006

There has been a lot of buzz going around lately about UWM’s plans for Innovation Park, the Engineering research campus that’s looking more and more like ordinary business—and residential—development.

I won’t repeat what others have already said so well:
Cheryl Nenn at Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Chris Liebenthal of Milwaukee County First

As regular readers of Urban Wilderness know, I have consistently argued for preservation of the natural character of the County Grounds. I have also consistently affirmed the appropriateness of UWM as the developer of choice if the grounds must be developed, a position many environmentalists embraced a year ago when the county decided to sell the land. In contrast, the general public, as indicated by attendance and participation in public hearings held by the Wauwatosa Common Council, has never given up on the idea of preserving all of the land.

You wouldn’t know that by asking the Common Council. As an active participant myself, I have been discouraged by the total lack of acknowledgement of this by the Common Council. We have even been dismissed by some council members as pushing too hard for more conservation—we who are the ones willing to compromise.

If you live in Wauwatosa, write or call your alderman and find out what he/she has to say.

There is still time for a healthy compromise to be achieved. As I first reported a week ago (read previous post), a coalition of environmental and historic preservation groups has been formed that is devoted to maintaining a presence on the grounds and to ensuring that wildlife habitat is protected and the Eschweiler buildings renovated—as promised by all parties. It is clear that there is strong sentiment for reconsidering UWM’s plans altogether. Whatever comes to pass, it is in the mutual interests of the city, county, and public that these lands remain a beautiful place to visit and experience its unique scenery and wildlife habitat.

For more pictures of the county grounds, go to my county grounds flickr page.
For pictures of the historic but decaying Eschweiler buildings, go to my Eschweiler flickr page.
For more pictures of the construction of the flood detention basins, go to my website.

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