By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Feb 06, 2002 at 6:20 AM

European cruise ships come to Milwaukee each year as they tour the Great Lakes, but when they dock the first thing visitors see is the industrial landscape of Jones Island. That could change in a year or so thanks to a plan by the Wisconsin Lake Schooner Education Association and the Port of Milwaukee, which hopes to create a better first impression of our city.

The plan, which could be announced in mid-February, calls for the complete redevelopment of Municipal Pier to accommodate cruise ships and public boaters, said Frank Steeves, chairman of the Board of Directors of Wisconsin Lake Schooner.

"Milwaukee is such a beautiful city, but cruise ships coming here tie up under the Hoan Bridge next to a sewage plant," Steeves said. "The first thing visitors should see are the art museum and downtown."

About 12 cruise ships stopped in Milwaukee in 2001 and about eight are scheduled to visit the city this year, said Ken Szalli of the Port of Milwaukee. The ships are small and medium-sized cruise ships and usually are from Europe, like the German "Columbus" or the French "Le Levant," according to Szalli. The Milwaukee stops are part of Great Lakes tours.

"We want to take advantage of the money spent on the art museum addition and Summerfest grounds and really show off all the great things Milwaukee has to offer," Szalli said.

Redevelopment of the pier is in the planning stages right now and will rely partly on plans to create a state park at Harbor Island, Szalli said.

"It's all part of a comprehensive vision for downtown to become the entertainment and educational hub of the area," he said.


While boaters can dock in the city's public docks on the Milwaukee River, the public boat landing that is part of the redevelopment plan would be Milwaukee's first on Lake Michigan, Steeves said.

"It will bring more people downtown," Steeves said. "In the summer people can tie up their boats and go to Summerfest or any of the other festivals. Right now people can't do that, and that's not right."

Construction on Municipal Pier could begin late this year or early in 2003 and would take about two to three years to complete, Steeves said.

Stay tuned to for more information on this project.