News & Issues

View We Energies’ June 1 Presentation on New Poles, Expansion Program

Top We Energies officials spoke and took questions at our June 1 meeting to address neighborhood concerns about new, larger utility poles being installed in the area.

Thelma Sias, Vice President-Local Affairs, and David Effertz, Manager-Customer Service Engineering/ Design-Major Projects, were invited to speak due to numerous concerns.

Here is a link to the presentation explaining We Energies’ construction activities in our area.



Repairs Begin on Historic North Point Water Tower, To Continue Through Summer or Fall

Repairs on the historic North Point Water Tower, an important city and neighborhood landmark, have just begun and will continue through summer or fall.

In a letter to Ald. Nik Kovac detailing the work to be done, Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie M. Lewis said the $245,760 project included removal and replacement of three stone finials, stone facade repairs, wood window restoration and replacement of existing floor plates.


Repair work starting in May 2016 on the North Point Water Tower


Lewis wrote the tower would not be covered in scaffolding, but that “work may require a traffic lane for equipment and supplies.”

Lewis also noted that the Water Works appreciated “the historic significance of this structure and received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission for the work. All required repairs will match the existing material and architecture of the building.”

A city inspection of the water tower in October 2013 revealed three of its four finials had structural issues that could present a hazard below, and they were temporarily removed.

The repair plans can be viewed here.

According to city historic designation study, the 175-foot tower, which was completed in 1874 and has since been an important Milwaukee and neighborhood landmark, “is significant for its role in early community efforts to improve public sanitation, as an example of nineteenth century technology and as a purely functional device of above average architectural quality. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, recorded for the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1969, named a Milwaukee landmark in 1968, and selected as a national landmark of the American Water Works Association in 1969.”

Historical newspaper articles from 1895 through 1973 about the tower can be viewed on HWTN’s website.

HWTN would like to thank the City of Milwaukee for taking care of this important historic building by funding its needed repairs and following the preservation ordinance to make sure the work is done correctly. Thanks to Mayor Tom Barrett; Ald. Nik Kovac; the Department of Public Works and Commissioner Ghassan Korban; the Milwaukee Water Works and Superintendent Carrie M. Lewis; and the Historic Preservation Commission and Carlen Hatala.



HWTN Co-Founder, Preservation Leader Barbara Elsner Honored by Historic Milwaukee Inc.

Barbara Elsner, one of Historic Water Tower Neighborhood’s founders and a national leader in historic preservation, was honored May 9, 2016, by Historic Milwaukee Inc. (HMI) with the group’s Spaces & Traces 2016 Preservation Award.

IMG_6220 (1) IMG_6226In honoring Barbara, HMI noted her board membership on many preservation groups; helping found HWTN and the Frank Lloyd Building Conservancy; and work that led to the City of Milwaukee’s preservation ordinance.




Barbara and her husband Bob purchased and preserved Wright’s iconic Bogk House in 1954 on Milwaukee’s East Side. where they still reside.

Barbara was given the award at a ceremony held at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.




HWTN Happy Hour at Pizza Man Helps Kick Off Spring

Historic Water Tower Neighborhood members enjoyed great appetizers and adult beverages at Pizza Man at our spring 2016 happy hour at the popular Downer Avenue restaurant on March 22, 2016.

Pizzaman copyPizza Man graciously provided delicious appetizers free of charge, while members tried wines from the restaurant’s renowned cellar, beers and other beverages.

Here’s a link to some of the photos from the party. Thanks again to Pizza Man for the great food, excellent service and being an important neighborhood anchor on Downer Avenue.

Police Share Crime Prevention Tips, Update on Carjackings

At the invitation of our alderman, Nik Kovac, Milwaukee Police Department Asst. Chief Jim Harpole discussed various crime issues affecting the City of Milwaukee and Police District One with more than 100 people who attended the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood monthly meeting March 2, 2016.

We learned from Harpole that carjackings citywide have dropped 67% since the implementation of the 90-day task force. Harpole suggested that the drop could be due, in part, to “word spreading” among would-be offenders that the gun court and the juvenile justice system are taking this crime seriously and issuing harsh penalties.

Asst. Police Chief Jim Harpole

Asst. Police Chief Jim Harpole

Carjacking, according to Harpole, is being examined at the “highest levels” of city government. While it is a citywide issue, the MPD has determined that the prevailing trend is that the carjackers committing crimes in District One are likely coming from District Three. Therefore, police resources are being directed to District Three to stem the flow of carjacking to our neighborhoods.

Interestingly, Harpole also described new technology called STAR Chase Pursuit Management Technology that is being used to track carjackers. This system allows police to launch a GPS device from their vehicle that sticks to the criminal’s car and thus allows police to track the carjackers without the need for dangerous high speed pursuits. However, a significant drawback is that the GPS device has problems adhering to cars in cold weather. With respect to high speed chases, AC Harpole reiterated the MPD’s current pursuit policy, explaining there is no pursuit except in the situation of violent crimes such as armed carjackings, but that even when pursuit is justified the officers are required to exercise due regard for public safety.

An issue frustrating many residents is the question of how to get timely and accurate information regarding crime in their neighborhoods. Harpole acknowledged that the MAP system, which was purchased in 2005, is now outdated. He thanked Alderman Kovac, who, in his role as the chairman of the Common Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee, has been instrumental in allocating funds for the purchase of a customized records management system for the MPD that will eventually allow for the implementation of a public platform for disseminating realtime crime information to neighborhoods. The use of the crime notifications from “Spotcrime” was discussed at the meeting. Harpole as well as residents and Officer Jose Alba pointed out the limitations of Spotcrime. For one, Spotcrime is not actual crime reports. Rather, it is a call log and can be misleading because many of the calls do not actually involve crimes, much less crimes in our area. Harpole encouraged residents to continue using the Nextdoor website and app (and sign up for the “Historic Water Tower” neighborhood to receive applicable updates), which is where Officer Jose Alba has been providing timely, detailed, and reliable reports of any significant crimes in our police district.

IMG_0514The question of police staffing was briefly discussed at the meeting. Harpole and Kovac explained that MPD has a robust police force and that Kovac, as chairman of the Finance and Personnel Committee, has successfully managed to assist in preserving the size of the force in the face of budgetary pressures while other major cities in the U.S. have drastically reduced their police forces. Kovac explained that given budgetary restraints, over the past decade the percentage of city employees has been reduced by 10%, whereas the police force has seen a relatively minor decrease hovering around 3%. Currently, there are about 1,900 working officers, and 1,000 of those are patrol officers. Harpole commented that this is a “very big force” relative to the size of the city and the police forces of other major cities in the U.S.

Following the extensive question-and-answer session with Harpole, Officer Jose Alba along with 1st District Capt. Eric Moore offered home security tips for residents.

These included:

  • Using landscaping as a deterrent (e.g. thorny bushes under windows but not too high as to provide a hiding spot for thieves);
  • Avoid leaving notes on doors for delivery persons;
  • Get security company signs for your yard (even fake ones are a deterrent);
  • Get a “beware of dog” sign, as thieves don’t like dogs, even little ones that can alert homeowners with their barking;
  • While on vacation: stop your mail, notify the district police for extra patrols, do not post vacation photos on Facebook during the vacation, and do not put your home address on luggage tags because baggage handlers can be networked with criminals who will then target your home;
  • Leave a radio or television on when you’re not home in the day. Officer Alba also recommended a device called Fake TV that mimics the flickering light of television and can be set on a timer when you’re away from home;
  • Call for a Target Hardening Assessment from a District One officer if you feel you need help assessing your home’s security;
  • Use motion detector lights;
  • Reinforce flimsy doors to garages.
Officer Jose Alba

Officer Jose Alba

Officer Alba also handed out brochures that addressed basic home security suggestions. HWTN will continue to provide these brochures and other security handouts at future meetings. When we asked about the number of burglaries throughout District One since the beginning of 2016, we were told there had been 49. Most of those burglaries involved UWM student housing and that number also includes reports of items stolen from garages.



– Laura Shipley, Chairman, Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Initiative for Public Safety Committee