City reaches accord on Kilbourn Tower settlement
In 2003, the City of Milwaukee turned over a small parcel of green space at the corner of Prospect and Kilbourn Avenues to aid in the construction of Kilbourn Tower. Many neighbors showed up to protest the move by the city, which stood to pocket $950,000 for the so-called "pocket park."
Lawsuits were researched and threatened. The tower also got to close a portion of Kilbourn Avenue for a few years as part of the deal, pretty much driving neighbors in an adjoining apartment building to flee.
Then, the owners of Kilbourn Tower -- including agent Joel Lee, who is now part of the controversial Downer Avenue rehabilitation -- protested paying the city since they claimed the city somehow reneged on its end of the deal by allowing the University Club to build a more high-end, upscale condo tower next to the Kilbourn Tower.
Indeed, the University Club Tower just to the south is nearly fully sold with a celebrity tenant list while the Kilbourn Tower sits like a bridesmaid at the alter.
A settlement that forces Kilbourn Tower to pay the city the $950,000 appears nearly complete. In return, the city will give back some $100,000 in performance bonds the tower took out on the project.
Road Weary: A Milwaukee Common Council committee meets this week to consider a three-year plan of improvements offered by the city's Port. Aldermen may want to double-check how much the Port wants to spend on road repairs.
The Port has to regularly fill out a three-year plan in order to qualify for federal grants to help pay for the improvements. Under its $14.7 million plan, only $200,000 is set to be spent on "terminal paving rehabilitation and related work" and $1.5 million is set to be spent on Carferry and Harbor Drive rail, road and drainage reconstruction.
A recent drive around Jones Island revealed that the pounding of the continuous convoy of salt trucks has created conditions akin to the aftermath of carpet-bombing.
Some of the potholes found could easily swallow the rims and tires of compact cars and lower areas have been turned into small lakes. Bicycling -- once a pleasant experience on low-traffic summer days -- appears to be a growing hazard as the salt season continues. A major part of the plan, however, is $2.8 million for a demonstration ballast water collection and onshore water treatment program.
Rack and Roll: It wasn't exactly a matter of visionary behavior by members of the County Board. It was more like dragging the alcoholic in for intervention. The board voted last week to ask for federal grants to pay for bike racks on county buses.
The board was told that the county could then avoid any penalties from an asbestos lawsuit started after demolition workers released the carcinogenic stuff into the air while tearing down Courthouse Annex. It's called a Carbon Offset payment.
The cost of installing the racks would be about $650,000, with $520,000 coming from federal grants and the rest from taxpayers and private donations. Training and rider education programs would bring the total cost to $790,000.
"This amount includes one new mechanic position (including benefits, social security, etc.); the cost for vehicle damage repair; and revenues lost due to the removal of marketing panels from the front of buses. If that level of maintenance support proves to be insufficient, an additional maintenance position would be added in the 2010 budget," states a memo from the county Public Works Department.
The County Transit System has long been dragging its feet to get on board with the idea of bike racks on buses. Racine recently announced its plan for them and Madison has had them for some time, calling its feature, the "rack and roll" program.
Achtung Baby: This one comes under the "piling on" rule of lawmaking. A bill introduced in the Assembly would add a $500 fine to any person who does not give an officer their name "when the officer reasonably suspects (the person is) committing, is about to commit or has committed a crime."
Failure to reveal one's name is considered obstructing an officer. Rep. Sheryl Albers (R-Reedsburg), a member of the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee, correctly pointed out at a recent hearing that there is no provision if the person stopped doesn't speak English.
Area bill sponsors include state Rep. Suzanne Jeskewitz (R-Menomonee Falls) and state Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin).
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