Dave Reid

“Today I’m a little disappointed in my alma mater”

By - May 22nd, 2009 02:25 pm


“Today I’m a little disappointed in my alma mater,” said Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb at the Thursday, May 21st Milwaukee County Board Meeting during the discussion of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s purchase of part of the Milwaukee County Grounds for an engineering school.  As a graduate of UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning his words and actions showed he understood how this proposal flew in the face of the school’s own teachings.

The concept sounds good, build an engineering school and business park close to GE Medical and the Medical College of Wisconsin in an effort to expand UWM’s research in the medical field, and there’s no doubt that some research and jobs will come out of this effort, but the bigger picture is that the continued hollowing out of the urban core isn’t good for UWM, the City of Milwaukee, or the region.  That by design this site will inherently have issues with pedestrian access, transit, and forced auto dependence.  That by developing this site natural habitats will be lost, congestion will be created, and additional pollution will be generated.  That this site would further discourage and disenfranchise minorities and limit their ability to attend the school.

Supervisor Lipscomb wasn’t the only board member to see the bigger picture.  In fact Supervisor John Weishan did all he could to improve the deal or slow the process to allow time for further improvements to the agreement.  He offered multiple amendments, one which tried to specify the allowable uses for the purpose of encouraging the development to be more mixed-use in design, and another that would have created a scholarship fund for minorities to attend the engineering school.  Both of these amendments attempted to address some of the big picture issues regarding the proposed school location, but received little support from other members of the county board.  He went on to make it entirely clear as to why he felt other members of the board supported the proposal, stating that he felt “the majority of this board has made up their mind that they just want the money.”

As this proposal has been an topic we’ve felt strongly about we do appreciate that Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Chris Larson, Lipscomb, and Weishan voted against this proposal, and do hope UWM works to provide better transit access to the area, creates a facility that respects the Monarch Trail, expands other programs in the city, and finds a way to diminish the environmental impacts of this development.

Categories: Real Estate

5 thoughts on ““Today I’m a little disappointed in my alma mater””

  1. Jeff Jordan says:

    Is anybody surprised? So much for the master plan. It evidently means what it says. Whatever the master wants he gets. Regardless of it is dorms on North Avenue or a research facility in Tosa. Is there any doubt that the School of Freshwater Sciences will build on the former Pieces of Eight site? I’m tired of UWM’s pretense for the issues of the taxpayers, citizens and neighbor’s in these areas. It’s not as if the opponents to these issues want to see the University fail. We all want to see it become the University that Carlos envisions, but not the way he’s going about it.

  2. M.R. Jackson says:

    Today, I am greatly pleased with my county government. A solid majority of county supervisors has approved the County Grounds proposal put forth by UWM. Innovation Park is a great opportunity to reverse a 30-year decline in the county’s standard of living. Thirty years from now, we will all look back on May 21, 2009, as one of the key days of the revival of Milwaukee County.

  3. MilwaukeeD says:

    M.R. Jackson, I don’t think that anyone here is upset that UWM is moving forward with a research agenda. We just think that there are other areas of the county where they could have had an even greater impact on the county’s standard of living and a smaller impact on the environment and urban sprawl.

    I think in 30 years, people will look at May 21, 2009 and think, “Man, what if they would have put all of that in the Park East, or around 1/st/Greenfield?”. Just like people think about Miller Park, etc. now.

  4. M.R. Jackson says:

    Sorry, but Miller Park is in a great location–for the 3 million fans who will come again this year. It has easy access from all directions and tailgating that is unmatched. I am not among those who think it should have been shoehorned into a downtown location to the benefit of bars, restaurants and parking ramps.

    And I don’t mind that the Brewers are the major beneficiaries of fans’ attendance (see excellent article “Baseball’s Most Valuable Fans” posted at Forbes.com). Had fans’ money been more distributed to area busineesses, we might already be home to the most spectacular minor league ballpark in America.

    The vacant Park East land? Time for MSOE to thrive there unabated thanks to all those downtown partnerships constantly touted on this website.

    And that First and Greenfield area? It will still happen. UWM’s Great Lakes WATER Institute is going to be part of a very nice expansion there over the coming decades along with many partnering private organizations.

  5. Chris says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with your article. As an alum of SARUP it’s more than disappointing to see my alma mater move forward in such a fractured manner. The land-locked campus has to grow elsewhere no doubt, but it seems there were better sites available to try and create a collegiate atmosphere. I hope at the very least we see some serious transit connections between all these disparate parts.

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