Michael Horne
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A Very Pleasant Opening

Photos and gossip from the ceremonial opening of the Pleasant Street Bridge.

By - Aug 3rd, 2013 01:33 pm
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About 70 people witnessed the cutting of the ribbon signifying the reopening of the Pleasant Street Bridge Thursday, August 1st, 2013. About 300 showed up for a free meal shortly thereafter at Wolf Peach Restaurant, 1818 N. Hubbard St.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the adjacent Schlitz Park, so as to not disrupt traffic on the bridge, which had unofficially opened a few days earlier, under its $4 million budget and ahead of schedule. The honors were done by Ald. Milele Coggs and Ald. Nik Kovac, whose districts are on opposite shores of the Milwaukee River at that point. They were assisted by Mayor Tom Barrett and Wolf Peach owner Gina M. Gruenewald. The whole affair was hosted by Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban, who said that the bridge “had been delivered in 11 months — unheard of in the past.”

Korban asked the crowd, “Is it the bridge that brings you here? The lovely weather? Or the party next door?” (We already know that answer.)

Among attendees were Gary Grunau, owner of Schlitz Park, Sandy Rusch Walton of DPW, Russ Klisch of Lakefront Brewery, who was joined by his brother Jim Klisch and his wife Joan Klisch. The mayor said he had read a recent op-ed by Thomas Friedman entitled “I Want to be a Mayor.” In it, he said that “the great laboratories and engines of our economy are our cities,” which Barrett said matches his opinion.

Asked if the mayor supported Russ Klisch’s decision to take an option on a 9-acre parcel in the Menomonee Valley for the construction of a new brewery, the mayor also assented, saying, “I like everything Russ does.”

Klisch added that he plans to keep his current brewery operation on Commerce Street. In the not-too-distant future, Lakefront may be giving competing tours at its two facilities. However, Klisch’s lease with Russ Davis for the Lakefront Palm Garden is expiring and will not be renewed. Sorry, ladies, but there will be no more wedding parties at Lakefront.

After the ribbon cutting and remarks, Korban invited the audience to watch the bridge perform a ceremonial opening and closing.

“The bridge takes 59 seconds to go up,” he said. “And it takes 58 seconds to go down,” he added. “Gravity.”

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