News & Issues

Passing of the HWTN President’s Gavel

The Passing of the HWTN President’s Gavel

Thank you President Laurel Maney for your fabulous leadership and incredible dedication in spearheading our HWTN this past year.  Your hours of non-stop efforts organizing the monthly meeting speakers who presented and shared great knowledge of our neighborhoods, your leadership in advising us on issues within our community which needed addressing, your commitment to making our Association stronger, and helping us become a better neighborhood team…we extend our gratitude.  We all look forward to continuing our relationship with you in your new role of Past President advisor and VP of Membership.  Bravo Laurel.

Newly President Elect, Gina Spang, we wish you a most successful year, and we all support you.  We are a team and want to help you in any efforts.  Welcome new President.

Milwaukee Marathon – Sunday, October 15, 2017

 

Please be advised that some of our HWTN roads will be closed on Sunday, October 15th due to the marathon…not this Sunday as previously stated.  Please read the letter below that was sent by race organizers to HWTN so that we could let you know of this event.

HWTN Notification 2017

 

 

New Website Focuses on Threatened, Historic Lake Park Ravine Road Pedestrian Bridge

A concerned East Side resident recently developed and launched a beautiful new website dedicated to the iconic but threatened 1905-1906 pedestrian bridge than spans Lake Park‘s Ravine Road.

The website contains many resources, including information on the bridge’s condition and history, and why it faces potential demolition. The site also includes numerous images, including historic postcards and recent photos.

Although a study last year deemed the bridge safe for pedestrian use, county officials recently closed the bridge, citing a different interpretation of that study.

The county has budgeted only $500,000 for what it estimates as a $2.5 million project. It has said area residents should raise the additional $2 million. Neighborhood groups have said they would not be able to raise the funds.

In a recent article in OnMilwaukee.com, the website’s creator, graphic designer Rebecca Silber (who lives in the HWTN neighborhood), said:

“My only connections are personal – as a neighbor, and as an artist who appreciates historic buildings and structures. This website is completely neutral, and meant to be used as a resource – that was my true intention in creating it. I wanted to get information out there, to those who may not have information about the Ravine Road Bridge.”

“When the bridge was abruptly closed last month, I had questions,” she says. “As I went around seeking answers, I was getting answers, but I still felt helpless. I asked what I could do to help spread the word about the bridge and was told that I could use my talents to design a website about the bridge.”

“My personal hopes are that the current bridge can be preserved. I would be extremely sad if the bridge was destroyed,” she says. “Its design and engineering is historically significant and it’s believed to be one of the only bridges on which the renowned Milwaukee architects collaborated.

WISN-TV (Channel 12) also broadcast a story about the website and interviewed Rebecca.

HWTN’s website also includes a number of articles and resources on the bridge issue. They can be found via our search engine, using the word “bridge.”

 

 

Milwaukee County Installs Fencing to Keep Pedestrians Off Iconic Lake Park Footbridge, Talk of Demolition Surfacing

Out of nowhere and with no change in the bridge’s condition, Milwaukee County has suddenly fenced off pedestrian access to this historic and iconic Lake Park bridge indefinitely, and, for the first time, talk of outright demolition is in the air.

This article, published on UrbanMilwaukee.com today (Wednesday Dec. 14, 2016), details the fast-moving developments that have ended more than 100 years of pedestrian access to this historic bridge and threaten its future.

image4Below is an email Q&A interview that took place Monday between Virginia Small, who wrote the Urban Milwaukee story, and County Executive Chris Abele’s spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff:

Q: What has changed since 2015–or 1905?

A: In reviewing our process to better restrict access to Ravine Road, which has been closed to all traffic since December 2014, we revisited access to the bridge itself and came to the conclusion that we would like to err on the side of caution when it comes to safety. The inability to control large groups was the deciding factor.
image3
Q: What large groups pose a concern? Pokèmon players? How many people would be too many? Can you send that risk assessment report?

A: Pokèmon players are not a concern on the bridge. The concern is very large groups that we can’t control, such as the start of a marathon or a large protest or demonstration. Some photos demonstrating what different load levels look like are in the attached report.

Q: Why wasn’t the bridge deck closed 18 months ago? (It had been partially closed with barriers to prevent vehicles but was then fully reopened.)

A: The bridge was never “fully reopened” – it has been open to pedestrian traffic and bicycles, but there has not been vehicle or equipment use, nor have we permitted special events. Because (a) the County cannot operationally control the volume of pedestrian crowd traffic on the bridge, (b) signs have not been effective in similar circumstances in neighboring communities, and (c) out of an abundance of caution, the bridge will be closed until a replacement or repair alternative is finalized. Furthermore, increased barriers will be put on drive to physically restrict pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle access until the bridge is repaired or removed. These are in addition to the precautions initially taken in 2015 when the report was first received, which included concrete barriers to prevent vehicles across bridge and not allowing the permitting of events across the bridge.

Q: What are the administration’s/parks department’s views about how $2M in private contributions will materialize? What is the administration’s position on a reported $1M anonymous donation–but only if he road is permanently closed?

A: The county executive is always looking for successful public-private partnerships anywhere they make sense. We’ve had a number of great collaborations in the Parks department, including our traveling beer gardens, the South Shore Terrace, and our futsal courts. We’ve heard that several individuals and groups may have an interest in contributing to the repair of the bridge, but haven’t received any specific offers or donations.

Q; Who might lead such a campaign? The new parks development officer? Is a case statement available or in the works?

A: Memorandum of Understanding is being drafted to be circulated to friends groups who may have an interest in raising the additional funds.

Q: Are there any local governmental precedents for an expectation of private donations for public-park infrastructure (as opposed to discretionary enhancements being supported by parks friends)?

A: The County’s footprint has expanded dramatically in the past century, particularly in our Parks. We’ve added more than 150 new acres of parkland just in the past five years, we’re adding new services and amenities such as our accessible ice sleds, and we also have hundreds of millions of dollars in capital projects already in the pipeline. It is simply not possible to maintain and upgrade all of our assets without additional revenue. One way we are addressing that is through the vehicle registration fee. Another is through private donations and partnerships with our friends groups.

Q: Has anyone in the administration (including parks department) communicated in person with neighbors about the expectation to raise $2 million for a bridge solution? If so, have any groups signed on to help solicit donations?

A: Not at this time.

Q: Has the administration caged off the bridge and road to put pressure on neighbors to come up with such funding?

A: No, and frankly that question is offensive. This administration — and the county executive in his personal capacity as well – is committed to preserving our natural spaces. We are closing the bridge out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of the public and Parks workers.

Q: Sup. Wasserman and others have also mentioned potential demolition. Is that a pending possibility?

A: Discussions were held with the community regarding alternatives for the bridge, with the “Replace-in-kind” option being the preferred alternative. The 2017 adopted budget includes $500,000 for “repair or replacement.” At this point, the administration is prepared to move forward with this alternative once the $2,000,000 is raised by the friends groups. If the Board prefers a different alternative, it would have to amend the budget.

Q: I heard that the board included an amendment that they supported changes in state wheel-tax regulations that would allow indexed fees. Can you provide an update on any prospects for an expanded, indexed wheel tax? Might the executive try to gain support for that among state legislators?

A: The county executive suggested exactly that when he first shared this proposal with the Board. He has always stated that he supports ways to make the vehicle registration fee less regressive. The budget called for the creation of a task force to explore different options. We look forward to their recommendations. In the meantime, the county executive has had conversations with legislators on both sides of the aisle about amending state law to give Milwaukee County the flexibility to determine the best way to implement the vehicle registration fee.

Q: Was the bridge designed to handle the weight of horse drawn carriages?

A: There is no mention of horse drawn carriages in the 1905 plans.

Q: What would be the total weight the bridge could handle?

A: Using the 30 lb/sf controlling capacity of the deck, the bridge can handle an evenly distributed pedestrian loading of 42,000 lbs.

Q: Did any of the following recommended measures (in the July 2015 Graef report) take place? If so, what bearing might that have on opening the road and/or bridge? If not, why not?

A: Sandbags have been placed at the southeast abutment to help direct water away from the washout/erosion area. Survey bench marks were also established and monitored to determine if elements of the bridge were moving. The bridge was opened to pedestrians when it was determined the bridge was not moving. Although no further funding was identified for additional work, visual monitoring of the cracks and erosion continue.

 

Repairs and Restoration of North Point Water Tower to be Completed in Spring 2017

UPDATE Dec. 2, 2016

The Milwaukee Water Works is reporting that its contractor found cracks in the stone finial during the carving process. A new piece had to be supplied and carved.

As a result, the cold weather now will not allow the work to proceed. Completion of the stone work including finials will proceed in the spring when weather permits, guessing mid-April. The upper portion of the tower is competed. There remains approximately 2 weeks of masonry work on the project. Soon the scaffolding and swing stage will be removed from the tower as that work is complete.


 


ORIGINAL ARTICLE Oct. 2016

Exterior and interior repairs and restoration on the North Point Water Tower will be completed by Dec. 9, 2016, according to an Oct. 28  letter from Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie M. Lewis.

In the letter, Lewis says that repairs began May 9 and have included —

  • Interior: Tuck pointing, repairs and cleaning of brick; replacement of original cast iron floor plates with galvanized plates, and
  • Exterior: Masonry work, replacement of damaged brick, painting and sealing of wood windows.

At the end of the project, three new stone finials will be installed.

According to a fascinating Water Works history of the 175-foot water tower — which includes a photo of a cow, yes, a cow, grazing in front of the tower —  it was first put into service in September 1874.

Repairs underway this month (October 2016)

Repairs underway this month (October 2016)

“The decorative stonework of the tower housed a tall standpipe, open at the top, that absorbed pulsations of water from the reciprocating steam-driven engines in the pumping station below,” the history says. “The station and the tower served for 50 years as the sole source of lake water into the distribution system.”

Historic Water Tower Neighborhood greatly appreciates the maintenance and preservation work being done on our namesake and treasured city icon. We wish to thank Mayor Tom Barrett, DPW Commissioner Ghassan Korban, Superintendent Lewis and Ald. Nik Kovac for their support of making this possible.