Monday, September 21, 2009

Opportunities To Say Where New UWM Science Schools Should Be Located

Readers of this blog know that there has been a lot of discussion here recently about where UWM should locate its new Engineering and research college, and also the School of Freshwater Science.

I think that the UWM Great Lakes WATER Institute, at the end of E. Greenfield Ave. at the Harbor, is the best site for the freshwater school, since that is where current UWM Lake Michigan water research takes place. (I put that argument into an August op-ed in the Journal Sentinel's Crossroads section.)

There is land at or near the Institute, as well as walkable, transit-served neighborhoods nearby, including the Fifth Ward, Third Ward, and downtown.

I also think UWM could seize the day and undo a land-use and transportation disaster in the making - - siting its new Engineering school on the County Grounds - - and combine it with the Freshwater School near the Water Institute.

That would create a cutting-edge science, research and development study center that also takes advantage of nearby Bradley Tech high school and one of the state's leading engineering firms - - Rockwell International - - among other valuable commercial, retail, housing and entertainment amenities.

I say disaster out at the County Grounds because even if there is a bus line created to it from the East side campus, most students and faculty will make the cross-town trip there and back by car, adding a bigger carbon footprint to the region.

Plus - - the County Grounds are right off the already-busy Zoo Interchange, and it is scheduled in the next few years for eight years of reconstruction, expansion and congestion.

That hardly sounds like a rational plan, especially since UWM is making nice progress on greening its main campus.

But here's the good news and serendipitous opportunity:

UWM has two public comment sessions set up next week at the student union to discuss these very school siting questions (Also included: a new public health school, which I believe is already ticketed for a downtown site slightly to the West that is the consensus choice.)

The school siting sessions are part of the campus' Master Plan study, on which consultants have been working - - but my hunch is that the consultants had done much of their work before the Pieces of Eight site was abandoned, and discussion began about putting Engineering with Freshwater Science, too.

So this is a great opportunity to urge UWM campus planners and administrators to locate the new Engineering and Freshwater Science schools together on the near south side - - a far better location for students, faculty and the City as a whole than were the County Grounds (Engineering) or the now-discarded Pieces of Eight lakefront site (Freshwater Science), too.

Here are the details; save the dates, bring your friends and organizations' position papers or comments, and weigh in:

Draft Campus Master Plan to be presented:

Master plan consultants from Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc. (HGA) and Sasaki Associates will be on campus Tuesday, September 29, and Wednesday, September 30, to present a draft of the UWM Campus Master Plan:

When and Where:

6:30 pm – 8 pm, Tuesday, September 29, Union Wisconsin Room.
8:30 am – 10 am, Wednesday, September 30, Union Wisconsin Room.

Feedback on the draft plan will be accepted throughout October.

Based on feedback, the consultants will develop a final master plan, which they plan to present in December.

Further Details Online:

Visit to review past presentations or submit feedback. [There were some access problems Monday afternoon, though not Monday morning, fyi]

For further information, or if you have special needs that require assistance, please reply to:


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more that UWM should locate the new schools in the near South side.

That location could give the area a boost and create more incentive for the mayor's street car line to extend up to UWM and down into Walkers Point.

I noticed that UWM hosted an Executive Summit on Sustainability in Jan of 2009 - hopefully they will look to incorporate some of those ideas with the new schools including location...

SocratesChildren said...

I believe the location is good because it will very likely trigger large, appropriate development in a part of town that is ripe for massive investment. UWM could send a signal that its school is more than an iconic location (pretty lakeshore) but a worker bee, a working part of the larger city. Being near the KRM commuter rail line sends the word out that Milwaukee wants visitors and development in and around this years-vacant industrial site. In one decision UWM could do a great thing for the future of Milwaukee.

Locating the campus closer to the central city will serve as an added boost to rebuilding transit in Milwaukee. Just now the stars are aligned for the building of a streetcar [open house October 8, 2009 from 3-7 p.m. on the first floor of the Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway], If you attend this open house you will see that one expansion direction will be from downtown to Walkers Point and Bay View. Many of us hope UWM will see its role as a catalyst for strategic development appropriate to the central city. Moving their plans away from the natural beauty of the County Grounds would protect this natural setting, well known as a resting spot for the migrating Monarchs.

Joyce said...

Having been to some of these meetings before, your respectful presence makes a real difference. One or two thoughtful well-considered comments are worth gold. The master planners here are intelligent and they are actually listening, more than you might expect.

James Rowen said...

To Joyce: Thanks for the Comment. So many pubkic comment sessions in other venues are purely pro forma.