Graham Kilmer

Green Project at ‘Tent City’ Site Finalized

City, state, MMSD cooperate on stormwater project. But its timing raises questions.

By - Dec 20th, 2019 01:01 pm
Milwaukee Overpass GI Stormwater Project Rendering. Rendering by Human Nature | Strand Associates

Milwaukee Overpass GI Stormwater Project Rendering. Rendering by Human Nature | Strand Associates

The city has landed on a final design for the first phase of a green infrastructure project underneath Interstate 794.

The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW), in partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), are redeveloping a swath of land under interstate overpasses to catch and treat stormwater.

The 16-acre site is west of 6th Street between West Clybourn and West St. Paul avenues. Using funding from MMSD’s Green Solutions program, DPW officials have developed a plan to turn the site under the freeway into an area designed for public use with storm water retention infrastructure. They are also developing plans for a future, currently unfunded phase of the project that would add public use elements to the space.

The storm water retention additions will involve stormwater drainage swales that carry runoff from six acres of freeway down to bio retention basins. A unique feature of the project is the sloping land that gives engineers the elevation and changes in grade to treat stormwater at multiple levels. “You have so much elevation and grade to play with,” said Kurt Sprangers, DPW stormwater manager. “You’re gonna have a couple opportunities to try multi-tiered treatment elements.”

The first phase of the plan is expected to be capable of capturing 150,000 gallons of water, keeping it out of the combined sewer during a heavy rain event. The second, unfunded phase, is focused on activating the space for the public. A popular option that is being discussed is the creation of a mountain bike trail. Plans also point to skateboard park, bike polo and other sporting courts, a dog park and a playground.

The site in question for this project is where a large number of homeless people had been camping over the past year. The area has been colloquially referred to as ‘Tent City.”  Milwaukee County has been working to get the residents of the makeshift community into housing, after WisDOT issued an order to vacate in early October and all but a few had left by late November. 

This project is in line with Mayor Tom Barrett’s Green Infrastructure Plan, that seeks to add approximately 36 million gallons of stormwater storage through green infrastructure by 2030. But Ald. Bob Bauman has publicly questioned whether the project has more to do with Tent City than is being let on, as Jeramey Jannene has previously reported for Urban Milwaukee. State and city officials, however, say planning for the project started two years go.

But city officials, as Jannene reported, are expressing concern that the encampment will start back up in 2020. Bauman said, “It’s not obvious how this plan will prevent camping.” And construction for the project is expected to start in late summer 2020. Which means the lot will still be vacant during the Democratic National Convention, when the eyes of the nation will be on Milwaukee.

Renderings and Plans

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

More about the Tent City

Read more about Tent City here

Categories: Real Estate

One thought on “Green Project at ‘Tent City’ Site Finalized”

  1. Barbara Richards says:

    Perhaps some Tiny Houses could be added!!! For the homeless???

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us