Residents Reject Freshwater Name
Contest to rename Pittsburgh Ave. to honor water institute didn't convince street's residents, who nixed Freshwater Way.
Freshwater, it seems, is fresh out of luck.
The winning choice of the City of Milwaukee’s contest to rename Pittsburgh Avenue in October 2012 was Freshwater Way. The idea behind the contest was that the new Water Accelerator building at 223 W. Pittsburgh Ave. should not be burdened by a name that calls to mind a different city. (The street was actually named after a paint company.) And so both East and West Pittsburgh Avenues would become East and West Freshwater Way.
The mayor initiated this competition which received 650 entries, 7 of which came up with Freshwater. The selection was made by a panel that included Ald. Jose Perez, Peter Moede the owner of the Reed Street Yards, (which is envisioned as a Water-themed business park), various city staffers and John Gurda, the Chairman of the City Advisory Committee on the Naming of Public Buildings, Facilities and Streets.
An unspecified number of entries suggested keeping the Pittsburgh name, “although a lot of those were out-of-state entries from people in Pennsylvania,” a mayoral press release announced.
Seems like the Quaker Staters aren’t the only ones who want to keep the Pittsburgh name.
As required by law, the City must send a postcard to businesses, property owners and residents in order to effect an official street name change. “The street name proposal shall not be given further consideration” if it has less than 50% support of those entities.
So, the city sent out 112 postcards to Pittsburgh Avenue addresses, and guess what? Only 10.7 per cent of the respondents were in favor of the name change for the four-block long street.
This put the city officials in a bind, and could possibly have embarrassed Mayor Tom Barrett, who is crazy about the name. (The mayor is also the guy who came up with the idea of calling Milwaukee the “Fresh Coast,” which nobody does.)
This brought Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban and City Engineer Jeff Polenske into the picture. It occurred to them that the Freshwater Way name might only apply to the one block between S. 2nd and S. 3rd streets, where the water institute is to occupy the building now known as 223 W. Pittsburgh Ave.
There are only two affected owners in that desolate stretch of the street, and both are in favor of the change, the officials noted in a letter sent May 31st to the Common Council. Now it is up to the council to authorize a one-block street renaming. If it approves, two new street signs will be erected at a cost to the petitioner of $200, and the matter will be done. (The petitioner also has to fork over $111.68 for those post cards.)
The city could also go the “honorary street name” route, which is rarely used here, but quite common in New York City. In that case, a “Freshwater Way” sign would be attached to the regular street sign. This has its own set of rules and procedures. The Public Works Committee approved the amended proposal for the one-block Freshwater Way yesterday, June 19th, and passed it on to the full council for its consideration.
However, Freshwater Way may win out in the end, according to Jeff Fleming of the city: “When the roadway is extended into the Reed Street Yards, the plans are that the new name will continue along the western extension.”