March 5, 2010
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is proposing to construct an Engineering Campus (known as Innovation Park) on 89 acres of the Milwaukee County Grounds. Milwaukee Riverkeeper is concerned that this development is much larger than the 70 acre Economic Development Zone delineated on the Master Plan for the County Grounds (Kubala Washatko et al. 2004), of which only 42.2 acres were delineated for development and 28.7 acres for conservation. We are pleased that UWM has proposed some progressive stormwater treatment for the site; however, we remain concerned about the following issues:
• Access Road and Eastern Portion of the UWM Site. The location of an access road along the site boundary
causes considerable fragmentation of the remaining natural areas in the northeast quadrant of the Milwaukee County Grounds. We also believe that the eastern portion of the UWM site (that is outside of the original Economic Development Zone) should be kept in a natural state to provide a buffer between the campus and remaining natural areas.
• Remaining Natural Areas and Open Space of County Grounds. Riverkeeper also believes that the remaining natural areas and open space of the grounds (including a 54 acre parcel between the Campus and detention basins and additional properties adjacent to We Energies) should be protected via a formal conservation easement, as past zoning and planning efforts to protect these areas have been unsuccessful.
• Protection of Habitat. Aggressive restoration efforts to protect habitat for migrating monarch butterflies, ground nesting birds, and other wildlife must be a priority. Past disturbance on the grounds—including creation of the detention basins and placing that fill in the upland areas—has essentially destroyed much of the remaining habitat that is left. New vegetation must be established in the County owned areas prior to any further vegetation disturbance on the UWM site. No demolition or clearing/grubbing should occur until there is funding in place for any new development, as the long-term funding of UWM’s plans is highly questionable.
In addition, we continue to be troubled that UWM is purchasing public property for an engineering campus, about half of which, they are planning on promptly flipping to a private developer as a way to finance the campus. This seems to be a backhanded way of dissolving public lands for the financial benefit of private developers.
Following are the proposed meetings at the City of Wauwatosa (7725 W. North Avenue) on UWM’s Innovation Park proposal.
We encourage everyone to come out and fight for these issues in order to preserve our precious public greenspace:
- March 8th—Plan Commission discusses the project at 7 PM. There will be opportunity for public comment, but no decisive action taken.
- March 9th—The Community Development Committee formally sets a public hearing date at 8 PM. No public comment allowed.
- April 20th—The public hearing is expected to be held at the Common Council at 7:30 PM.
- April 27th—Issues returns to the CDC for discussion and recommendation to the Council. Public comment allowed.
- May 4th—Common Council acts on recommendation at 7:30 PM.
Here is a link to Wauwatosa’s website on the UWM project and includes links to the Master Plan documents: http://wauwatosa.net/display/router.asp?docid=3726