Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

What’s the Infrastructure Plan for DNC?

Council, led by Bauman, pushes for city to have citywide, coordinated plan for convention.

By - Apr 4th, 2019 04:28 pm
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BMO Tower Site with City Hall visible in the background. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

BMO Tower Site with City Hall visible in the background. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Alderman Robert Bauman doesn’t want the city to be caught replacing a water main Downtown or undertaking similar public works projects while the city hosts the Democratic National Convention in 2020.

The event, which is anticipated to draw more than 50,000 people to Milwaukee, is expected to fill the city’s streets, as well as its hotel rooms, and push the transportation network to its fullest extent.

“What’s the plan to develop the plan?” Bauman asked Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske at a meeting of the council’s Public Works Committee. “Are we going to do a massive, high impact initiative this summer?”

“From the public works side, we’re actively looking at our schedule this year, our schedule next year,” said Polenske.

The commissioner said the city is preparing a list of projects that could be advanced if the resources are available. He said the focus is on identifying projects, like high-impact paving, that don’t require substantial design time: “We do have a number of high-impact projects coming up this summer on some of the key things that will be focal points to the DNC. That was obviously planned before the convention was awarded.”

Polenske said he will know more in the coming weeks, as the department is expected to engage with the Democratic Party on event logistics. Polenske also thanked officials from Charlotte, which hosted the DNC in 2012 and will host the Republican National Convention in 2020, for being willing to provide guidance to his department.

“What is our radius?” asked Ald. Mark Borkowski. “The bottom line is people will be in more than just Downtown. We could have a sparkling Downtown, but if our surrounding neighborhoods aren’t getting the attention they deserve then we’re losing part of it.”

Polenske, a resident of Borkowski’s district, agreed and said his department would be focused beyond Downtown.

But the commissioner isn’t the only person calling the shots. “I’m one piece of the team,” said Polenske. Joe Solmonese, who previously ran the Human Rights Campaign, has been hired as CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee. Polenske’s boss, Mayor Tom Barrett, remains a co-chair on The Good Land Committee.

The council committee held the communication file to be able to easily call Polenske and others for future updates on convention planning. “I just wanted to get ahead of this and stay ahead,” said Bauman.

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Related Legislation: File 181925

More about the 2020 Democratic National Convention

Categories: City Hall, Politics

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