Monday, April 1, 2019

Downtown grove, arts center footprint on key City agenda Monday

You may remember that the Marcus Center for The Performing Arts downtown wants to alter its plaza and remove a grove of chestnut trees installed there decades ago. Preservationists say that would be big mistake and are moving in City Hall to stop it.

The City of Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Commission takes up a move today at 3:00 p.m. in Room 301-B in City Hall where commissioners could move forward a legally-binding status to the Center which would prevent the removal of the trees.

Here is a link to the meeting location and agenda, and for those wanting more information, the item's complete public file, #181570:

"Resolution relating to the Permanent Historic Designation of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts at 929 North Water Street in the 4th Ald. District"
One blog post about the issues is here, and also a strong, updated reflection on the entire matter by Mary Louise Schumacher who initially sounded the alarm about the plan when she was the Journal Sentinel's arts and architecture expert and has again raised the level of discussion with a more recent post, here:
This is public space. Let’s not forget who owns the Marcus Center. The art center’s officials are stewards of a resource that belongs to our community. While the art center conscientiously surveyed its patrons about what they wanted and needed from the arts center, it also appears they were blindsided by the public backlash that they are obliged, as public servants, to consider. 
Again, I offer these thoughts as a means to address the confusion that’s been stirred up by recent discussion, and I recommend my original column to you, which presents my broader argument. I plan to be present for Monday’s public hearing. This is our last opportunity to show up and support the proposal filed by landscape architect Jennifer Current and architect Mark Debrauske. The historic designation would, in turn, provide some protections for the site. If you cannot be present, you can send a letter to the commission:
Frankly, I can't envision the designation being tabled or denied, nor can I imagine the full Council not approving an historic preservation status for the complex.

Why would Milwaukee show itself off to tens of thousands of new visitors, opinion-makers and the world media during the 2020 Democratic National Convention while having enabled the degradation some of the most cherished tree-lined public space in the downtown?

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