Thursday, September 17, 2009

Daykin Scoop: Control Issues Steered UWM Away From Lakefront School Site

I could write this lede every day of the week:

You think you don't need daily newspapers: well think again.

Here's another solid exclusive - - Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel development beat writer - - sheds sunlight on some of the reasons that UWM stepped away from locating its School of Freshwater Science on the Milwaukee lakefront downtown.

Turns out that Michael Cudahy, the retired industrialist/inventor/donor/ driving force behind acquiring the Pieces of Eight restaurant site next door to Cudahy's Pier Wisconsin/Discovery World complex, wanted a level of control over the school's design that UWM found unacceptable, Daykin reports.

As I wrote earlier, the City had design difficulties when Pier Wisconsin was first proposed (then rejected, then downsized, relocated and approved), so there is some precedent for these kind of difficulties - - magnified with legal and community issues also on the table when lakefront developments are proposed.

Sometimes, philanthropy and development cannot be reconciled.

And now we know it wasn't some cabal of selfish tree-hugging environmentalists trying to preserve a grove of trees and a sliver of open space between Pier Wisconsin and the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum that prevented UWM and its private sector partner, the M7 Water Council, from building at the Pieces of Eight site.

As I have written here and in the Journal Sentinel's Crossroads section - - and believe me, these are not proprietary ideas - - the Pieces of Eight site on the lakefront, pretty as it is surely, is also too narrow, and too separated from UWM's signature WATER Institute labs and boat dock near the Harbor on E. Greenfield Ave., to insure that the new Freshwater School became a successful, coordinated and focused teaching and research campus.

I can understand why Cudahy wanted that input into the project, but if it was not a doable stance - - which seems to be confirmed by UWM's stepping back and Cudahy announcing he would turn the site that he now owns into a new restaurant - - then everyone should move forward with a different site selection process and agenda in mind.

Beginning with this premise: if more than $30 million in public funds were to be committed by taxpayers in the name of water education, research and development - - a solid idea for the University of Wisconsin system, and Milwaukee, absolutely - - then spending those dollars as strategically as possible has to be a perquisite.

And that should include leveraging the most employment from the investment - - from high-end R&D spinoffs to retail and service jobs emanating from new construction.

In an urban environment, that means spending those funds on Milwaukee's near south side/Harbor-area commercial district - - if you truly believe in public-private partnerships and the use of something like a social balance sheet of assets and liabilities that also fits with the traditional balance sheet, too.

No better place for the school than in the near south side 5th ward, where the WATER Institute resides where E. Greenfield Ave. ends at water's edge near the Harbor.

So to Tom Daykin: a tip of the hat.

To the community: let's keep Milwaukee's revival south of the downtown on track. Look at the Third and Fifth Wards, the Harley-Davidson Museum and the growth in an improved Menomonee Valley.

Add the School of Freshwater Science to the mix.


Anon Jim said...

If I didn't know any better, oh wait I do, but Mark Belling has been discussing all of the supposed Daykin "exclusive" for several days now on his show. Before the appearance of Daykin's article.

But unlike Daykin or anyone at the MJS for that matter, Belling always tries to make a point of citing information sources especially if they originate from other media.

James Rowen said...

I am talking about document-supported disclosure journalism, which is what Daykin did.

Anonymous said...

How is it any worse than a huge view-killing Marina full of yachts or the concrete slab called Summerfest? It can be placed next to the water treatment plant just north of bradford beach. There is a big county-owned field there that is rarely used and on the lake. Am I just missing something?

Anon Jim said...

Gotcha now.

If it's not in the MJS dead-tree media, then it is not news.

So "scoop" and "exclusive" are one of those "it depends on what your meaning of the word 'is'is" kinda situations.

Anon Jim said...

James - here is another scoop for Mr. Daykin.

Mind you I haven't had any documentation handed to me, but I think there might be something going on between John Edwards and one of his campaign workers. Now I know the National Enquirer has been reporting on this since October of 2007 but that doesn't really count does it? It sure didn't to the OTM for well over a year.

Please note the gal in question has had a baby in the meantime, but Mr. Edwards has assured us over, and over, and over again that he is not the father.

And I believe him, I really do.