Estabrook Dam

Say goodbye to the dam, this long running debate has come to a close.  I feel it is a failing of past county governments that it fell into disrepair, causing this issue to be one that has split the community for so long.  Now, by circumventing the public will of the county board, our county executive has sold it to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD) to be removed.   

I know many feel a freer flowing river is the a better solution than repairing the dam.  To that end, there were other options that should have been explored.  A rock ramp was also proposed in the initial set of alternatives which was a middle ground solution.  This had the benefit of lower cost than repair, similar flow, fish passage, and would increase the park's water level to about one half of were it used to be.  This is what should have been done in my opinion. 

No matter your position, it was unfortunate that the Glendale Common Council did not take a stand when the county changed their position from repair to remove.  By remaining neutral, stepping back and not forward, Glendale's voice was not heard.  With the upcoming removal of the dam, there is an impact to Glendale.  The Glendale community will lose what used to be a swim-able Lincoln Park (those new water slides do look fun though).  Milwaukee County will lose the only inland power boat-able body of water.  Canoes and kayaks will have a hard time navigating the fast moving and shallow depths.  It is also uncertain what might be in the newly exposed river bed.  The MMSD is not planning on addressing any upstream impacts to Glendale land owners or the county parks. 

One can't go back in time, though one can step up and try to make things right for Glendale landowners upstream and visitors of our parks.  Randomly surveying a sample of my constituents, 86% said the city should not remain neutral in the discussion.  Furthermore, 85% felt the impacts, such as shoreline remediation due to lower water levels, should not be the responsibility of homeowners but instead the party removing the dam.  I spoke up on behalf of my constituents, and we made some progress.

The city asked the MMSD for more analysis, reasserted a prior request for shoreline remediation, and pushed the DNR to step up.  Still, when all this fell on deaf ears, we stopped short by not contesting the permit.  Two other alderpersons felt as I did that we should have pressed ahead, while the three others felt differently.  This was a cost / benefit decision.  Pay to demand a seat at the table now with an uncertain outcome, or sit in the audience and hope for something years from now.  I felt the potential benefits outweighed the cost, and now was our time to act.  With a tied vote, the motion failed, and we are now hoping for a project supported by grant money years from now.

See notable votes for related Common Council action