Here is a place to store information about “Empowerment Village,” a project being advanced by Cardinal Capital Management, Inc.

Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers, “Flabbergasted” by “Empowerment Village’s” Ill-Conceived Development Plan

Thanks for the information. I’m actually flabbergasted that someone would
consider that piece of land an appropriate place to build a housing
development given the size and shape and location of this property, and am
also confused as I’m guessing that it would be impossible to build such a
structure and also provide the City recreational trail that has been planned
(and funded for?). That parcel is one of the only “natural” sections left on
the KK and an important part of the proposed trail and future plans to
revitalize the KK. It’s one of the few natural corridors left, and is often
used for educational activities—we have 2 different citizen volunteer
groups and one high school monitoring water here as well in addition to
regular cleanups. I think it’s safe to say that FMR would be vehemently
opposed to any development at this location.

In addition, due to the fact that the concrete channel of the river ends at
around 6th street and becomes natural between 6th and Chase, this area
collects considerable garbage, which requires major cleanups in both the
spring and fall, and indeed in the last several years, Sixteenth Street and
FMR and others have organized “crane assisted cleanups” at this location
that have drawn hundreds of people (between 6th and Lincoln more or less).
There is also pretty severe erosion in this whole stretch due to hydraulics
of the river and the concrete to natural transition, and the bank is
currently not stable throughout a big section of this same section of the
river, especially between 6th and Chase. That is easily visible from walking
that stretch of the river, and several large sections of culvert and pipe
have also failed and fallen into the river in this stretch due to the
extensive erosion. It seems that with so many vacant and underutilized
properties and vacant parking lots on the south side of the City that could
be used for such a development, that any building at this riverfront
location would be completely inappropriate.

I would be happy to speak to Alderman Zielinski or anyone from the City who
would like more information. We will definitely attend the hearing, and
would be in opposition. I also suspect that many MCCC members would have
concerns about this proposed project.



Cheryl Nenn
Milwaukee Riverkeeper
Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers
1845 N. Farwell Ave. Suite 100
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 287–0207 ext. 29
(414) 273–7293 (fax)

A Call for Thoughtful, Transparent DCD Planning Affording Public Dialogue With Developers Made Aware of S.E. District Plan Charrettes

Hopes for Our River Steward’ Contribution

Yes, let the mayor know. His government has fumbled the ball here. I explain.

The meeting this evening was conducted ably by Tony Zielinski. It was his point that he wanted all voices heard; and he strongly intervened when one neighbor tried to call another neighbor “narrow minded.” Tony’s moderating of the discussion was competent and supportive of all voices. I told him after “Tony, you run a cool meeting.”

When my turn came, I explained the SE District Plan - which to be fair to them, the developers had no idea (for two years) was being conducted by the same department of the city that was encouraging their investment in this site.

While I would be happy for a development for the mentally challenged (and would be happy if they lived next door to me), I wondered how DCD could have blundered more. They let Cardinal and “Our Space Inc.” believe that this spot was available, even while they conducted SE District Plan meetings and asked the rest of us for our input over the months on the use of these river corridor spaces. A public charette was held to develop ideas for the River corridor; a gorgeous booklet of sketches from that charette has been available for at least several weeks. And all this time the people dedicated to serving the mentally disabled are NOT being told there were a growing number of stakeholders who have generated interest in maintaining green space along the river corridor.

The neighbors were angry, civil, or nervous about the possibility of having 48 units of mentally disabled people in their midst. I felt that most of them could be talked to, or taken by the hand and allowed to meet the people they are afraid of. Thankfully, the meeting did NOT turn on prejudice against the mentally disabled. But the prejudice is there and needs to be addressed by the principals. The care providers had elegantly lined up their voices, and made a strong case for understanding who these new residents would be — each of them on a medical program, far along in treatment, with the goal to live independently. A lieutenant of the MPD spoke about crime in that neighborhood and pointed out that the mentally challenged are more likely to be victims or crime than perpetrators. (My own story: I remember my own dad arguing against this prejudice like 50 years ago. The house was given a permit, and the residents of that house would always wave at Dad when they walked by. It was an endearing scene. I would credit the South Side with being more mature than those residents of Hales Corners.)

Back to the meeting: It seems the larger divide of the meeting was between the developers and Open Space, which would run that living center, and those who are concerned about the river. The architects were most forthcoming about wanting to establish a site that would be a collaboration between the developers and those concerned about access to the river, and the environment generally. This can be worked through, but the developers are clearly upset that their time line of approval by Feb. 3 (tax credit deadline) may not be met, with this new information. This is a problem DCD could have avoided if it had simply talked to the neighbors earlier on. Transparent government is so hard?

The SE District plan actually identified several vacant lots in that same area for the very purpose of alternative housing.

The point I made with the architects afterwards was that once the permit is granted, all those promises and commitments and collaborations made with the River Keepers might have to be surrendered once the building begins and structural and soil problems have to be solved - they would build a 3-story 48 unit dwelling on a river bank. Anything might be required (and done) to get the building up.

And the City itself has been working on a bike path exactly right on that very location (an old railroad right of way). I wonder if the architects can really make a commitment to let the bike path run through the development, as the architectural sketch now shows.

I told them that I cannot represent the SE District Plan process, even as I accepted their invitation to examine it all in more detail, but I really need people in that discussion who know the river better than I do. Please share this email around so we can find the knowledge we need to be part of this discussion.

I came to the meeting with less than a day’s notice. I would have loved to have had a dozen river people there to help explain. I would have loved to have the sketches from the public charrette on design of the corridor.

I would love to have a city government that talks to their own planners, and a city government that communicates with their own citizens. Maybe someday.

Bill Sell

Late Notice to Public Hearing on Empowerment Village

Take a look at the river corridor

Rosedale and Chase, Milwaukee, WI 53215 (use satellite on Google

You will see the opportunity we have to protect undeveloped river
banks and retain their natural beauty.

Plans for this area need to be thought out by the community, not by
one developer at a time.

YOU cleaned that river. And now it is desirable property.
Tonight, listen to one developer’s plan.


Tuesday, December 11th, 6:30 p.m. at the Manitoba Banquet Hall,
(formerly known as Manitoba Lanes), 3001 S. 6th St. (one block north
of Oklahoma)

We will need voices to drown out money.
Bill Sell

DCD did not call the meeting, I called the meeting. This item could have been approved last month but I prevented this item from being scheduled so that there would be an opportunity for community input. Since this proposal is out of the Bay View area (west of the river) I sent out notices to people that live west of the river. However, since there is a greater issue of protecting undeveloped river banks etc. this is bigger than just the neighborhood west of the river. The more people that attend the better.

It should be noted that DCD is pushing approval of this project but if my constituents are opposed then I will be opposed. That again is the reason why I called the meeting. It is important to show up because I have constituents that have contacted in support of the project because they have some ties to the company.

Tony Zielinski

Forwarded message ----------

From: Bill Sell <[email protected]>
Date: Dec 11, 2007 2:01 PM
Subject: [bay_view_matters] protect KK river, tonight Dec 11, 6:30, 3001 S. 6th St.
To: [email protected], [email protected]

Thanks for the background, Tony.

While we travel in the ice tonight, the message we would like to send to City Development:

Last Month this was on the table? What about Notification, notification, notification? We always scream about surprises, and then we get new surprises, especially around our waters. Many of us have invested hours in a SE District Plan. To see the “Plan” bypassed by City Hall (even while it is being drafted) is gravely disappointing, and raises questions about the integrity of City Development, who brought us into the planning process.

Please ask your colleagues in City Hall not to sabotage the good will we bring to this process.

At the last SE District meeting, I was at a table in which we made marks over the map of this area. And I specifically recallan opinion at our table that senior living quarters be considered near UMOS on vacant land south of UMOS (not nearly so close to the river), but near the shopping centers (there are four in the area) for the purpose of serving seniors, and routing Bus #11 to serve this population. No one at that meeting of about 100 people said it would be a good idea to develop the river banks for housing or commerce. There is a wide consensus that green space along the river should not be developed; that we learned a bitter lesson about such development on Commerce Street, which turned out cheap and ugly.

City Development was present at and hosting this SE District meeting. No one from that department said anything about a proposal that was going to upend our ideas. We worked in good faith, and we expect good faith.

To my neighbors, please attend this meeting if you can. (The buses are running today).

Oklahoma Route #51 leaves Superior at 6:04, leaves Howell at 6:11, arrives at 6th Street about 6:15. Walk one block north, or catch the #80 northbound for one block (one will be at Oklahoma and 6th about 6:20. You’ll be glad you are not parking a car. Suggestion: Park in Humboldt Park near Oklahoma and board the #51 from the park entrance. OR Route #11 southbound leaves Mitchell at 6:03, meets the #15 at 6:11 at Oklahoma.

protect KK river, tonight Dec 11, 6:30, 3001 S. 6th St.

See ya there, ya?


A housing development is being proposed in the strip of City-owned land on which part of the Kinnickinnic River Trail will be constructed next year. The City’s Department of City Development (DCD) is proposing to allow the building and parking lot to be built somewhere in the narrow strip of land bounded by Rosedale and the river, and 6th St. and Chase Avenue. Many creative suggestions for amenities for this strip were generated by the Kinnickinnic River Trail charrette participants a year ago. More recently, Southeast Side Comprehensive Plan workshop participants identified that strip of open space as an important connector (for wildlife and potential other trails) to the adjacent linear strip of open space (former railroad) that parallels 6th Street to the south of Rosedale.

Alderman Tony Zielinski is hosting a public meeting to gather public opinion on this proposal next Tuesday, December 11th, 6:30 p.m. at the Manitoba Banquet Hall, (formerly known as Manitoba Lanes), 3001 S. 6th St. (one block north of Oklahoma). The developer of the proposed project, which would house the mentally disabled, will present details about the project and answer questions. Alderman Zielinski will take feedback from the public afterwards.

And with the weather as it is today-you might want to call and confirm that the meeting is taking place. In any case you could contact your alderman and Alderman Zielinski with your concerns. [email protected] 414–286–3769.

Ann Brummitt

[email protected]

Dear All,

Please let us know the thoughts of the “river protectors” of Milwaukee to this development, which seems to have kind of snuck up on us?

Check and hopefully find something on “Empowerment Village,” a psychosocial rehab center slated for a 2 acre site I hope will be identified at their web site, around 5th & the KK River.

The Milwaukee Renaissance will have a site to upload people’s opinions from all sides of the issue. Send e-mails to [email protected]

It is my understanding that Tony Z has asked for Milwaukee’s environmental community to meet with developers and local area residents to see if progress can be made before a Feb. 3 application deadline for one line of out of town revenues.

Does anyone have any thoughts as to how so important a development for the KK river revitalization was not brought to the attention of the people in the S.E. Planning Process?

Is the development sufficiently dangerous for setting the stage for KK revitalization that we should not allow it to go through without more thorough river impact analysis and discussion?


Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by Olde.  Page last modified on December 20, 2007

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