Northpoint Magazine Covers HWTN-Area Utility Poles Issue

The August 2016 issue of Northpoint magazine includes a great summary of our June 1 board meeting with We Energies about the utility pole issue. The article is posted below.

We Energies Presents 
at Historic Water Tower Neighborhood June Monthly Meeting Historic Water Tower

Neighborhood’s Utility Expansion Committee invited We Energies to present its plans for the next phase of utility upgrades at HWTN’s monthly meeting.

The idea behind the meeting was to offer residents of historic districts the chance to learn more about the need for the planned upgrades, and how our historic districts and neighborhoods would be impacted.

David Effertz, Tiffany Tinsey and Thelma Sias at HWTN's June 1 meeting

David Effertz, Tiffany Tinsey and Thelma Sias at HWTN’s June 1 meeting

Residents of the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood, as well as concerned neighbors and citizens of other historic districts, filled the Marcia Coles room at the Lake Park Pavilion on June 1, 2016. David Effertz, We Energies Manager of Customer Service Engineering/ Design-Major Projects, gave a detailed presentation on the next phase of utility upgrades. He was accompanied by Thelma Sias, We Energies Vice President of Local Affairs.

Effertz presented a detailed explanation of the need for substantial utility upgrades affecting many of our historic streets. Among other reasons, residents learned that these upgrades are necessary due to the retirement of the Cambridge electrical substation and to the tremendous growth of the city. Many residents expressed deep concerns.

While supportive and excited about the city’s growth, members in attendance asked for We Energies to be mindful of the historic nature of their homes and neighborhood. They said they are looking for choices and greater communication.

Some shared concerns that power lines for busy streets like North and Prospect Avenues have been installed on parallel historic residential streets like Summit Avenue. Additional concerns were raised about the safety of above ground wires, the length of the new poles and forestry losses.

We Energies representatives answered the neighbors’ many questions as best they could and handed out their business cards welcoming additional questions. As in most monthly meetings, HWTN was fortunate to have the valued presence of their Alderman, Nik Kovac.

Tiffany Tinsey, Chair of the HWTN Utility Expansion Committee, said she was very encouraged by the line of communication established by WE Energies and the Water Tower district. She added that she hoped other utilities will follow. “Embracing growth while maintaining the integrity of our historic neighborhoods is a constant balancing act,” Tinsey said. “Today it’s utility poles, tomorrow‬‬‬‬‬ could be something else. Residents have a right to be informed and have a say in how these changes are implemented.”

Sally Peltz, President of HWTN said “This relatively new issue will remain on the agenda until our members believe that We Energies has given their historical neighborhood the care it’s required due to its celebrated character.”

The Historic Water Tower Neighborhood is hopeful that a direct line of communication with WE energies will continue to improve – realizing that as our city continues to grow, so should the lines of communication when our neighborhoods are impacted.

Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Mission Statements on Utility Expansions:
HWTN passed a resolution in February opposing “the use of commercial/industrial utility poles inside of our historic area” and calling on “the City of Milwaukee and We Energies to formalize a working partnership with HWTN in planning remediation of the existing damage” and “planning how to avoid further damage to this historic neighborhood as the We project moves further north through Historic Water Tower Neighborhood and the Downer Avenue area.” The Mission statement of the Utility Expansion Committee is to protect our historic district from continuing utility encroachment by seeking sustainable solutions for our city’s growing utility needs. Mission statement of HWTN “the preservation and enhancement of the unique residential character of the neighborhood.”