Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Milwaukee Water Could Help Create Thousands Of New Berlin Jobs Underserved By Transit

A City of Milwaukee report in a package of materials provided to the Common Council for a July 29th committee vote on whether to sell Lake Michigan water to central New Berlin says the water will be supplied to New Berlin acreage available for development that is not directly served by Milwaukee County Transit Service.

The report indicates that the New Berlin area to which the water is to be delivered could eventually see more than 5,600 jobs created; the lack of good transit to New Berlin is called a constraint on employers and Milwaukee residents trying to connect with each other.

The city report's language about the employer/employee connection is "constrained by inadequate public transportation."

Bus service is currently;y provided Milwaukee County Transit Service Route #10 as far west as Brookfield Square - - a 55-minute ride from downtown Milwaukee - - then by a contracted bus operated by Waukesha's transit system through Wisconsin Coach Lines to the New Berlin Industrial Park, for example.

That Coach service is a Monday-Friday operation only: with its $3.50 round-trip fare, and the Milwaukee County $4.50 round-trip Milwaukee-Brookfield Square charge (excluding any pass discounts), a round-trip by bus from Milwaukee to the New Berlin Industrial Park is as much as $8.00 daily.

Full schedule and fare information is here.

Milwaukee County's Route #6 formerly went directly to the industrial park, but that service was ended in 2004.

The City of Milwaukee jobs' analysis document, with the transit discussion, is here.

What's important about the document is that Milwaukee has several existing Common Council resolutions that, as a matter of policy, tie water sales to a broader agenda: transit growth, affordable housing and other regional improvements that Milwaukee expects to see in water-seeking communities to help alleviate certain social and economic pressures that fall disproportionately on the state's biggest city.

It's Milwaukee's way of trying to leverage water sales towards a broader regional agenda.

Does New Berlin's application for water and proposed agreements with Milwaukee meet those expectations?

The potential water sale could include a yearly meeting between Milwaukee and New Berlin on employment and access issues, along with a no-raiding pledge and a $1.5 million one-time payment.

Milwaukee will have to decide if New Berlin is adequately linking water acquisition to regional issues, such as access to jobs and affordable housing: it currently has 80 such units in its jurisdiction, nearly all of them targeted to seniors, not low-income families.

First year wholesale water revenues to Milwaukee would be $966,000; infrastructure costs to the Milwaukee Water Works would be about $6.8 million.

Details on the possible water deal are here.

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