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Old February 6th, 2007, 10:58 PM   #461
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It's not lack of attractions that keep people away--the beach is the attraction--it's the pollution, filth, lack of lifeguards, and stench that's at fault. Adding more crap to the scene does nothing to address those issues. Keep it clean, keep it safe, keep it fresh, and the nature lovers will return.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 12:21 AM   #462
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Originally Posted by looksee View Post
It's not lack of attractions that keep people away--the beach is the attraction--it's the pollution, filth, lack of lifeguards, and stench that's at fault. Adding more crap to the scene does nothing to address those issues. Keep it clean, keep it safe, keep it fresh, and the nature lovers will return.
I agree and disagree.

I'm a firm believer in keeping the beachfront simple, uncluttered and relatively undeveloped but certain "attractions" would suit the beaches nicely. For instance - fixing up the old lifeguard post at Bradford Beach into a cool retro burger and ice cream stand... or finally get around to revamping that terribly neglected three-story white building just east of Alterra at the Lake.

Perhaps the Native American Museum isn't the best host for the site but I think it would be nice. If anything, they should replace the boarded up windows with those slick LED lights they've got on the Milwaukee County Historical Society building at Pier Marquette Park. I'd love to see that.

Maybe a good idea would be to replace that old hut with the chain-link fence they use to gut fish and hang huge wooden fishing charter advertisements (at McKinley Marina) with something nicer. Same purpose, nicer facade. Make it more welcoming.. not so obtrusive and intimidating.

As far as development goes though, I think that's about it. I don't ever want to see the lakefront turn into something like Chicago's Navy Pier. Not that it would, but you get my drift.

Anyway... about the "clean beach argument." The beaches aren't THAT bad but they CERTAINLY could be so much better. The problem is that the city just doesn't want to devote the funds to beach cleanup. In their defense, there are beach sweeping trucks that go through a few times each summer and county/city workers empty trash cans and pick up some of the litter. However, this effort is dwarfed by the amount of trash people throw on the sand, in the rocks and in the water. Dwarfed by the incessant piles of disgusting, smelly algae. Dwarfed by the bombardment of dead alewives along the shorelines. Don't throw the "Milwaukee dumps tons of poop in the lake" argument at me though... it's just not true. They haven't dumped anything in quite a long time. The smell comes from the algae. But anyway...

The city REALLY needs to get their heads together to address the aforementioned problems because we all know they're problems... big ones. I think all too often the lakefront is taken for granted and people in general and city leaders in particular neglect to treat it with as much respect as it deserves.

And finally, I'd like to say that it wouldn't hurt if all of us did our part to help clean up. Every Spring, three times in the Summer and again in the Fall, I'm part of a large group that gets together with trash bags, gloves and some free time to help clean up the beaches. The task is always overwhelming so if any of you would like to come along next time we make our way out there, let me know.

I've written enough though... Here's to clean beaches and smart decisions.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 01:05 AM   #463
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No argument here: rehab; renovate; recycle; maintain and enhance what we already have. Cull the junk and and don't add more.

Glad to see that you do more than your part. Tragically, Milwaukee County government leaves so much to be desired.

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Old February 7th, 2007, 05:50 AM   #464
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Is that picture supposed to prove a point?
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Old February 7th, 2007, 06:24 AM   #465
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Bradford Beach is a depressing place and something is needed to rejuvenate it.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 06:52 AM   #466
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Interesting info:

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Originally Posted by The Urban Politician View Post
http://wistechnology.com/article.php?id=3676
AT&T tech rollout will bring 200 jobs to Milwaukee
WTN News • Published 02/05/07
Milwaukee, Wis. - AT&T Wisconsin will create 200 new union jobs in Milwaukee to support the rollout of a new Internet-based video service that soon will be available in the Milwaukee area.

In making the announcement, Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin, and Seth Rosen, regional vice president of Communications Workers of America (CWA), said the new jobs will be located at an AT&T facility at 804 N. Milwaukee St.

AT&T, which already has call centers in Milwaukee, has launched the new video service in 11 markets as an alternative to local cable providers. VanderSanden said the company expects strong demand for the product, known as AT&T U-verse. It will integrate digital TV, high-speed Internet, and voice services over an Internet Protocol (IP) platform.

AT&T will begin hiring for the new positions this year, and it expects the majority of new employees to staff U-verse call centers by year's end. The workers will provide technical support to customers and field technicians.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 07:08 AM   #467
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This has been a tremendously successful and unique balance, spoiled mostly by the foul odors--natural and Made in Milwaukee-- which the community has not yet done enough to control.
This is one the most profoundly frustrating misconceptions out there. Zebra mussels have invaded the Great Lakes. They overconsume the phytoplankton, which in turn are the main consumers of aglae. With less phytoplankton in the water, algae collect into huge plumes which then wash up on beaches. When on the beach the aglae die and smell like shit. It is not human shit washing up on the shore. Sometimes e coli is found in the water, both in Milwaukee and Chicago, but that has been found to have been caused by seagulls, which congregate on the water to feed off of -- you guessed it -- the algae plumes.

It is true that when the city gets a lot of rain, sewage can get dumped into the waterways. It used to be that when any rain event happened sewage was released -- this happened an average of 60 times a year. Milwaukee spent billions on a deep tunnel sewerage system to hold the excess shit when it rains, so it doesn't get released. Since the deep tunnel -- which is not yet complete, by the way -- we see an average of 1.5 spills a year. 1.5 spills too many, of course, but Milwaukee releases a lot less shit into the waterways than most cities. It was the first city on the Great Lakes to build a deep tunnel sytem to deal with overflow issues. And, hopefully, we will see spills down to 1.5 every 100 years after the final legs of the system are complete in the coming years.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 07:13 AM   #468
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Cull the junk and and don't add more.
So, MAM is junk? Discovery World is junk? Have you actually seen the designs for the water garden? It's not "junk." What is junk? Junk is parking lots that haven't been repaved in ten years. Like the one that will be replaced with the water garden.

I like the water garden proposal because it's understated, and will become an activity center while still keeping the focus squarely on the Lake, where it should be. And, yes, I hope it is a catalyst for the continued replacement of junk with quality gathering places at the water's edge.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 07:33 AM   #469
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Junk is parking lots that haven't been repaved in ten years. Like the one that will be replaced with the water garden.
The Water Garden is not being built on the parking lot; it is being built on the small, eroding, grassy/sandy patch of sloping land between the parking lot and the beach.

It is a nice, understated landscape architecture project though, that will serve to enhance one small slice of the lakefront. It's environmentally conscious by stabilizing the small slope from further erosion and preventing runoff from the parking lot from draining onto the beach. It's also functional, serving as a gateway for the access paths/ramps down to the beach, while providing a built-in seating area/gathering/play space. And the bonus is that the project accomplished all of those things in a creative manner, rather than the typical, sterile, institutionalized way (standard picnic tables and wooden benches, etc.).

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Old February 7th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #470
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This is one the most profoundly frustrating misconceptions out there. Zebra mussels have invaded the Great Lakes. They overconsume the phytoplankton, which in turn are the main consumers of aglae. With less phytoplankton in the water, algae collect into huge plumes which then wash up on beaches. When on the beach the aglae die and smell like shit. It is not human shit washing up on the shore. Sometimes e coli is found in the water, both in Milwaukee and Chicago, but that has been found to have been caused by seagulls, which congregate on the water to feed off of -- you guessed it -- the algae plumes.
A friend and I do something called "nature art." One of our works was done along the rocky beach north of McKinley Beach. We chose the site because of the rocks and (to steal the phrase from milwaukeeunseen) -- you guessed it -- the algae. We wanted to emphasize the algae's impact on the beach by creating a distinct line with the rocks.

If you've never seen the algae, you're in for a shock. Here's a picture from the work I was just talking about:

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Old February 7th, 2007, 04:56 PM   #471
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A friend and I do something called "nature art." One of our works was done along the rocky beach north of McKinley Beach. We chose the site because of the rocks and (to steal the phrase from milwaukeeunseen) -- you guessed it -- the algae. We wanted to emphasize the algae's impact on the beach by creating a distinct line with the rocks.

If you've never seen the algae, you're in for a shock. Here's a picture from the work I was just talking about:

Cool, like mini "Spiral Jetty"s (ala Robert Smithson in the Great Salt Lake.)
That was the biggest dissappointment I had with the MAM addition, the break walls had no esthetic value whatsoever, a complete afterthought. Imagine functional art (a rock, break wall as art), the MAM addition should have clued board of Dir. in on that one.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 05:34 PM   #472
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Small Business Times

Coroner's office will be prime development site

Milwaukee County officials are looking for a new location for the County Medical Examiner's Office. If the office is moved, the county would likely sell the current office at 933 W. Highland Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. Relocating the office would enable the county to take advantage of the rising value of the downtown property, which is in a prime location, said County Supervisor Paul Cesarz, who is leading the search for a new site.

"The current building is in need of renovation and does not have enough space to meet the medical examiner's needs," Cesarz said. "I'm looking to relocate this office to a new site, perhaps on or near the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa. A new facility or location would likely provide lower costs per square
foot."

The coroner's building is located on the south side of Highland Avenue, just across the street from the former Pabst brewery, which is being redeveloped by Joseph Zilber, founder of Zilber Ltd., into a mixed-use urban neighborhood of residences, stores, restaurants and office space. "We would be interested (in buying the current coroner's office site)," said Mike Mervis, Zilber's assistant. "Everything that surrounds the Pabst is of interest." Whomever buys the medical examiner's property is probably going to wait until the Pabst brewery redevelopment is complete before redeveloping the site, Mervis said.

"I think it has potential when and if the Pabst is fully developed," Mervis said. "It has potential five, six or seven years from now. If anybody purchases it, it would be something they would want to hold and wait until the Pabst develops. It would be a significant holding investment."

The county board recently passed a resolution that directs the Economic Development Division of the Department of Administrative Services to conduct a search and work with the medical examiner to review all potential locations, including existing county-owned buildings.

The county is looking for about 50,000 square feet of space for the new medical examiner's office, said county board spokesman Harold Mester. County officials will review all potential locations for the office, but would prefer a county-owned building because then they will not have to buy a building, he said. Selling the current medical examiner's building would provide revenue for the county to find and improve a new space.

County officials are interested in moving the office to the County Grounds because that location could enable the office to pursue laboratory service contracts with other governmental agencies. "Moving the office could provide a more central location with easier access to the state Department of Justice Crime Lab and the Medical College of Wisconsin," said Supervisor Gerry Broderick.

The county is still in the process of selling, piece by piece, the land it owns in the Park East Freeway corridor. The county is issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) for each block of land it owns in the corridor and selling the property to developers. The county board adopted the Park East Redevelopment Compact (PERC) for the process of selling that land. The PERC requires developers to pay union-scale wages for construction projects on the county-owned land in the Park East corridor. In addition, the PERC indicates that developers that hire local employees, provide job training or create green space would be more likely to be selected.

Some developers have criticized the PERC, saying it will discourage development. So far, construction has yet to begin on any of the county owned properties in the Park East corridor.

Since the current medical examiner's office also is a prime piece of downtown real estate, located about four blocks from the Park East corridor, county supervisors may decide to require similar community benefits from developers who want to purchase the medical examiner's office site. "I know there are several board members that would push for that," Mester said. "I wouldn't be surprised. I think there's a good likelihood of that."


Kahler Slater to design new office space for Cramer-Krasselt

Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater has been selected to design the new office space for Cramer-Krasselt's Milwaukee office. Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt is the third-largest independent advertising agency in the United States. The agency has about 165 employees in its downtown Milwaukee office at 733 N. Van Buren St. The company's lease at that location expires in August 2008.

Cramer-Krasselt has decided to move to a new location said Betsy Brown, general manger for the company's Milwaukee office. The company occupies 50,000 square feet of space in its Milwaukee office. It is looking for another 50,000-square-foot space in a downtown building that will provide options for future expansion, Brown said. "We’ve outgrown our space," she said. "We've been in this space for so long, and it really doesn't function as well as we need it to."

The company considered 25 different options for its new Milwaukee office and has narrowed them down to three sites, one in the Historic Third Ward, one in the Park East corridor and one near the Park East corridor. Two are proposed buildings and one is an existing building that would be renovated, Brown said. She declined to provide any additional details about the sites Cramer-Krasselt is considering.

"Most of the focus has been on what's the best location," said Steve Palec, senior vice president of CB Richard Ellis, who is representing Cramer-Krasselt. The company wants to be in its new location by late summer of 2008, Brown said. So, they hope to begin construction of the new building, or of the renovations, in June.

In its work for Cramer-Krasselt, Kahler Slater will be responsible for "visioning, real estate analysis, strategic brand planning and implementation, conceptual design, architectural design, interior design and construction administration."

Kahler Slater has already conducted a vision workshop with Cramer-Krasselt employees to determine the experience they want in their new space. "(We want to) create a space that is inspirational, interactive, more collaborative and, or course, creative," said Mark Sekula, project team leader at Kahler Slater. "They're really looking to make their strong brand and creative culture manifest in their future space."


Menomonee Valley developments to create 2,050 jobs for Milwaukee

New development that is either planned or already under construction will create 2,050 new jobs in Milwaukee's Menomonee River Valley, according to Menomonee Valley Partners Inc., a non-profit corporation that promotes redevelopment of valley. The $240 million, 500,000-square-foot expansion of the Potawatomi Bingo Casino at 1721 W. Canal St. will create about 1,000 new jobs at the casino, according to the Forest County Potawatomi tribe.

On Monday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to celebrate the start of construction of a 144,000-square-foot industrial building by Germantown-based Ziegler-Bence Development at the former site of the Milwaukee Stockyards. Proven Direct, a direct marketing, technology, printing and fulfillment firm will move to the building from Menomonee Falls and will occupy 53,000 square feet of the Ziegler-Bence building. Proven Direct will bring 56 full-time jobs to the valley and plans to add another 56 full-time jobs within three years.

Other developments in the valley include: the new Harley-Davidson Museum, which is under construction at South 6th Street and Canal Street; Caleffi North America Inc. which will move from Franklin to a new building to be constructed in the valley; and Taylor Dynamometer, which plans to move from New Berlin to a new facility that will be built in the valley.

In the last seven years, more than 2,100 jobs have been created through business expansions and relocations in the valley, according to Menomonee Valley Partners.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 06:50 PM   #473
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This picture is so depressing. We have spent billions to make our waterways cleaner, and it has worked pretty well. The river used to smell of human shit all the time, and now it is lined with millions of dollars in development, filled with all kinds of fish species and even blue herons (I've seen them myself). What's ironic that back when sewage overflows were commonplace most people didn't even think about them, and they were never reported on in the media. Now, they are rare occurances, which makes them newsworthy, they get reported on and therefore get more attention. So in the public's mind water pollution is a growing problem in Milwaukee when in fact the opposite is true.

But what can we do about the algae? The Great Lakes are a broken ecosystem and these algae plumes are a product of an ecology out of whack. We can't reduce the effect of the zebra mussells because they have become a problem far outside our control. Look at a map and see how tiny Milwaukee and Chicago appear next to this enormous, vast expanse of Lake Michigan. Multiply that times five and you have the world's largest fresh water ecosystem that human activity has completely and irreperably ****ed up.

So what do we do? Scoop the algae off the beach? We could scoop it up every day but that would cost millions of dollars every year. Should we erect a giant net to keep the algae from landing on our beaches? That would cause even worse environmental problems and it would be cost prohibitive.

I find hope in this new water garden at Bradford Beach. It will get more people down to the beach, which means there will be more interest in the public to dig in, volunteer, and pony up the money neccessary to keep it clean from algae and more preventable things such as litter.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #474
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So, MAM is junk? Discovery World is junk? Have you actually seen the designs for the water garden? It's not "junk." What is junk? Junk is parking lots that haven't been repaved in ten years. Like the one that will be replaced with the water garden.

I like the water garden proposal because it's understated, and will become an activity center while still keeping the focus squarely on the Lake, where it should be. And, yes, I hope it is a catalyst for the continued replacement of junk with quality gathering places at the water's edge.
I probably shouldn't respond to something this foolish, but I guess I object to having my posts so grossly misrepresented.
Junk would be the couple of lakefront shacks that look like overgrown outhouses--I think one is used for jetski rental; Milw.Mark,in the post preceding mine and to which I was agreeing, mentioned a building that he thought could be done without or at least greatly altered.
I specifically described this part of Milwaukee's lakefront as a very successful balance, and, as described by Mktct, the water park would fit in. However, given the prevailing conditions: the stink (whatever the origin), and most especially the insufficient cleaning and grooming of the beach and lack of lifeguards, this amenity will only have a negligible effect on improving the bradford beach scene.
As for your wish for continued attractions along this length of the waterfront, I stand by my earlier cautions: Diminishing returns--more traffic, congestion, less accessibility, and development bloopers--would inevitably set in.
Now, just out of curiosity, since you want "continued replacement of junk", what exactly do you consider junk (besides a nonexistent parking lot)?
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Old February 7th, 2007, 07:17 PM   #475
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The photo is interesting, but the subject matter is disturbing. You really don't see this kind of thing in Chicago, at least not on the north side.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 08:36 PM   #476
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UWM Riverwest Dorms Delayed til Spring 2008

After a shortage in Sandburg Residence Hall’s university housing, the RiverView Residence Hall will provide a home for up to 475 students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

But after construction delays, the opening originally planned for the fall 2007 semester has been pushed back to spring 2008, said Scott Peak, University Housing director.

The new RiverView dorms will be located just west of the Milwaukee River on North Avenue. As suggested by its name, the RiverView design centerpieces the Milwaukee River.

Those who live in or visit the dorms will be able to use a terrace, connected to the dining hall, which will overlook the river and provide a view of the city’s skyline and downtown.

But the construction delay poses a problem for students who had interest in living in the RiverView Residence Hall.

“Twenty five percent of the contracts sent out (for next year) had a preference to live in RiverView,” Peak said.

Peak said those students will have two options. Students could commute or find an off-campus housing option nearby for the fall semester and move into RiverView in the spring.

Otherwise, Peak said, students could choose to take a room in Sandburg since it has not yet reached its maximum capacity for next year.

Due to the inconvenience, those who hold off until second semester to reside in RiverView will be given a privilege that other students do not have.

“These students will never have a housing contract be rejected,” Peak said.

Currently, students cannot reside in university housing for more than two years, but this policy would not apply to those inconvenienced by the delay.

Peak also said that social gatherings would take place during the fall semester for those who would reside in RiverView next spring.

One of the reasons for the delay is that the new dorms were built on county park property, and the National Park Service temporarily halted construction until additional land was found to replace the newly constructed property, Peak said.

After the conflict was resolved, construction resumed. Last week, the dorm’s third floor walls were put into place. This level will include a long glass corridor that will serve as the dorm’s main entrance.

A Grind Coffee Shop and convenience store will be connected to the corridor so residents in the surrounding area will be able to use these commodities.

Peak said the rooms have been designed in a traditional suite style. Each suite will contain two double rooms with walk in closets. The four residents occupying the suite will share a bathroom.

The cost of staying at RiverView has not yet been decided, however, residents will pay more than they would if they stayed in Sandburg. Peak said this is a result of high construction costs due to inflation.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 08:40 PM   #477
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I probably shouldn't respond to something this foolish, but I guess I object to having my posts so grossly misrepresented.
Junk would be the couple of lakefront shacks that look like overgrown outhouses--I think one is used for jetski rental; Milw.Mark,in the post preceding mine and to which I was agreeing, mentioned a building that he thought could be done without or at least greatly altered.
I specifically described this part of Milwaukee's lakefront as a very successful balance, and, as described by Mktct, the water park would fit in. However, given the prevailing conditions: the stink (whatever the origin), and most especially the insufficient cleaning and grooming of the beach and lack of lifeguards, this amenity will only have a negligible effect on improving the bradford beach scene.
As for your wish for continued attractions along this length of the waterfront, I stand by my earlier cautions: Diminishing returns--more traffic, congestion, less accessibility, and development bloopers--would inevitably set in.
Now, just out of curiosity, since you want "continued replacement of junk", what exactly do you consider junk (besides a nonexistent parking lot)?
Well any improvement on any aspect of that area would be greatly welcomed. Maybe we don't have lifeguards or insufficient cleaning - and that's probably due to budget concerns and the lack of public demand for it to be done. This water garden would increase the attractiveness of the beach, bring more visitors that wouldn't probably go to a beach, and as a side-effect bring more public awareness of what's truly going on down there firsthand instead of hearing it on the news during their sweeps.
As for your "cautions" I don't know what's going to lower traffic counts with or without a water garden! Lincoln Memorial Drive is a very popular route for commuters going in and out of downtown. Development bloopers - it's a possibility, but knowing our aldermen or county supervisors I'm sure they'd look over every little bit of every little detail and nitpick their way around it.
As for the algae and the stink being in Milwaukee and not Chicago, maybe we should take the opportunity to ask our buddies to the south how they got that problem taken care of.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 09:40 PM   #478
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As for the algae and the stink being in Milwaukee and not Chicago, maybe we should take the opportunity to ask our buddies to the south how they got that problem taken care of.
The prevailing currents in Lake Michigan direct the algae plumes to Milwaukee and not Chicago. Even beaches on the south side of the Milwaukee metro are relatively clear of algae:

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=359374
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Old February 7th, 2007, 10:07 PM   #479
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Now, just out of curiosity, since you want "continued replacement of junk", what exactly do you consider junk (besides a nonexistent parking lot)?
I was under the mistaken impression that the water garden would replace a parking lot. This was probably wishful thinking, because if I could wave a magic wand every surface parking lot that sits right near the water's edge would be replaced -- replaced with grass, trees, water gardens, playgrounds, etc. To me the parking lots are the ultimate "junk" that we need to get rid of along our shoreline. I'd be willing to bet that we could eliminate half the parking lots along the lakefront and still have enough room for people to park for lakefront activities. Our lakefront should be for people, not cars.

The other main category of junk is abandoned, underused or just plain tacky buildings. Especially the old Coast Guard station and the beachhouse at Bradford. These buildings should be rehabilitated into uses that make sense for the lakefront: cafes, museums, etc. The kite rental and bathroom shacks should be torn down and replaced with something more attractive and permenant. The Lake is the main attraction and the amenities at the lakefront should compliment it, not detract from it.

If I had a billion dollars I would also replace the industrial-looking US Army Corps of Engineers barriers that line the walkways near MAM and Veteran's Park. I would replace them with more decorative railings, nice lighting, and more places for people to sit and contemplate the scene -- nice places to sit, not junky old picnic tables.

Of course, all of these changes would be accompanied by a full-blown cleanliness and safety campaign.

I think what we should do is have a full blown planning process for the lakefront, so we can finally get serious about making our lakefront the "civic living room" that we can all be very proud of. I'm optomistic that the Bradford water garden will give people a glimpse of what our lakefront could be like, and will put the pressure on our decision makers to get serious about our lakefront.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 10:41 PM   #480
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Great Lakes Distillery in Riverwest

Rehorst's artisan vodka grows stonger still in this brew city
By Andy Tarnoff
Publisher

E-mail author | Author bio
More articles by Andy Tarnoff

Published Feb. 6, 2007 at 5:44 a.m.

Podcast: Guy Rehorst talks about the art of distilling vodka
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You'd expect Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood to be the home of a small microbrewery, lovingly producing a few thousand barrels of beer annually. You might not expect that neighborhood to be the headquarters of an artisan vodka distillery, a building that produces just 2,000 bottles each month.

But right under your nose is Great Lakes Distillery, which produces Rehorst Vodka. Before this venture, owner Guy Rehorst ran a CD and DVD manufacturing company, but was looking for a new opportunity. He wasn't a vodka connoisseur at the time, but two years into the business, he's learned a thing or two about the clear and potent spirit.

"I went from high-tech manufacturing to an industry that's 3,000 years old," says Rehorst. "But frankly, I needed something like that."

Rehorst, who lives in Mequon, says people are surprised that a firm is making vodka in Milwaukee.

"I think that's probably one of the greatest things about our business, that it generates a lot of interest, because people are like, 'What do you mean, a vodka distillery in Milwaukee?'"

The distillery is located on Holton Avenue, but for what he cites as legal purposes, Rehorst doesn't give tours or even openly disclose his address. "The federal government wants to ensure that the tax revenue is protected, so they don't like us giving out our street address," he says.

He started selling product last October, and it's available at about 400 locations in Southeastern Wisconsin, Madison and the Fox Valley. Rehorst says about 150 of the locations are liquor stores, and the rest are bars.

Rehorst describes his vodka as a little higher quality than Grey Goose or Ketel One. He says his spirits have a slight sweetness to them, which is a natural flavor -- not fortified with sugar. Rehorst Vodka is priced competitively, too, for a premium brand.

"It has a little more of the taste of the source ingredient, the wheat mash, that we produce," he says. "We're not manufacturing it in a large industrial ethanol still -- we're doing in a pot still which was really designed for brandy."

"It's made with enough care that it's a very smooth product," says Rehorst. And as for his personal favorite vodka drink, he stands by the martini -- without any vermouth.

Rehorst says he's constantly tasting and smelling the product for impurities , and every part of the product gets used. Even the "head" of the vodka is recycled for cleaning fluid.

Rehorst says that his distillery has some room to grow, but if he starts distilling other spirits like gin, rum or whiskey, he may need additional storage space at another location.

"When we get into whiskey production, I think we will have to get an additional still," he says.

Currently, Rehorst can produce about 3,000 bottles of vodka per month, which is very small compared to the national brands. He has two employees at the distillery, as well as a friend who helps him with marketing.

"If we're not the smallest in the country, we're one of the smallest," says Rehorst. "But we're having a blast. The worst thing that could happen is that no one buys it and we have to drink it ourselves."






After Guy Rehorst founded the only Wisconsin manufacturer of CD-ROMs and DVDs, he decided to ditch the world of high-tech. He yearned to be an artisan. On weekends, he dabbled in beer brewing and wine making. But that niche in the marketplace was filled with microbreweries and vintners. “It was as if I had come too late to the party,” Rehorst says.


For lovers of premium vodka, that was a great, good fortune. Rehorst, 43, has set up the only craft distillery in Wisconsin – in a former dairy on the industrial edge of Milwaukee’s funky Riverwest neighborhood. His hands-on, personal approach to distilling vodka is getting applause from area bartenders and liquor stores. Elliott’s Bistro in Milwaukee went through two bottles of Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Vodka in the first two days the bar began serving it. “It’s a very smooth vodka, with a little edge,” says Peter Clement, bar manager at Elliott’s.

While mass-produced vodkas such as Absolut are churned out on automated and computerized stills, artisan distillers do it the old-fashioned way, with their hands and taste buds. Many contend this produces a better-tasting spirit. What’s more, artisan distillers such as Rehorst are

on the rise: An industry group counts 77 craft distillers in the United States, compared with just seven of them 10 years ago.







But where it’s relatively easy to set up a microbrewery, it’s not so simple to set up a distillery. It took Rehorst some 18 months of research (studying methods and laws of distilling), schooling (at the only two craft distillery workshops in the United States) and red tape (the book of federal laws guiding distillers is more than 1,000 pages and almost a foot thick) for Rehorst to get licensed and ready to go. Finally, in September, he opened Great Lakes Distillery – the first distillery in Wisconsin since Prohibition.

At his headquarters, Rehorst and his only full-time employee, Doug MacKenzie, transform Wisconsin wheat and imported yeast into premium vodka. The gleaming copper still, imported from Germany, dominates the stark warehouse. One corner houses a couple of desks and computers; nearby is a small wooden bar, where Rehorst and MacKenzie run taste tests.

“We don’t have any ice or mixers,” MacKenzie apologizes. “Our small refrigerator is filled with yeast.”

To make the vodka, Rehorst or MacKenzie first make a “mash” out of wheat, yeast and water, which is run through the still two, three, sometimes four times. Each time, the mash’s “head” is discarded, as is the “tail.” Then a hand-rigged filter refines it. “Every time you make it, the process is a little different, and we do this all by taste,” Rehorst says.

Matched against Grey Goose, Rehorst offers a similar smoothness but with a sweeter edge and a less pronounced after-taste. “The sweetness of the wheat comes through,” Rehorst says.

Rehorst and MacKenzie are working on their own brand of gin, to be released later in 2007, and Rehorst has plans to develop a rum and a whiskey. For now, Rehorst vodka is distributed in Milwaukee and its surrounding area. “I’m looking for a liquor store that will be able to ship it,” Rehorst says. If you know of one, he says, call Great Lakes Distillery. And chances are that if you do, he’ll be the one answering the phone.



Milwaukee

Great Lakes Distillery

3950 N. Holton St.

greatlakesdistillery.com

414-431-8683
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