On Monday, Nov. 29 at noon a new, free trolley services launches in Downtown Milwaukee. And, just today, three Milwaukee lakefront destinations (Betty Brinn Children's Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World) urged Milwaukee County's leadership to establish another short-term trolley service aimed at addressing safety and access issues while the O'Donnell Park garage is closed.
The Milwaukee Holly Loop will operate through Dec. 22 from noon to 7 p.m. on only Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday. It's funded by Milwaukee Downtown, B.I.D. No. 21, and will feature access to more than 75 locations in and around Downtown Milwaukee.
As for the other trolley need, the leaders of the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum and Discovery World in a letter to County Executive Scott Walker and County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said, "As winter approaches, the continued closure of the O'Donnell Park garage has the potential to create real hazards for our patrons.
"Visitors -- including families with young children, senior citizens and those with disabilities -- who previously used the O'Donnell Park structure are crossing Michigan Avenue, Wisconsin Avenue and other Downtown streets and traffic, and soon will be doing so in inclement weather. Or they may elect not to visit at all."
Of course, it would be ideal to have a full, connected and integrated Downtown transit system. A Milwaukee streetcar system is in the works, but doesn't seem to be moving ahead anytime soon.
Yet, to get people around a large, modern Downtown area, Milwaukee needs to find more efficient transportation methods. It's simply a necessity for a top tier city. The group suggesting the new lakefront trolley loop wants stops at the US Bank garage, the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Leaders said it would reduce pedestrian safety issues and provide visitors to the three sites with practical and safe parking and transportation to their destinations throughout the winter.
The three, Fern Shupeck, executive director of the Betty Brinn Children's Museum; Dan Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum; and Joel Brennan, CEO of Discovery World, suggested the service be available on a consistent basis during normal operating hours from December through March.
They also indicated that the current operator of the Downtown summer trolley (Milwaukee Downtown, B.I.D. No. 21) has expressed an interest in the project and that a $25,000 investment from Milwaukee County would go a long way toward addressing "the needs and safety of our visitors."
"Milwaukee has wonderful year-round appeal, and our lakefront is among our most important assets," the lakefront leaders added.
"Without this service, the lost visits and reduced patronage will hurt all of our locations as well as other area businesses. On the other hand, this new service will have a lasting and positive impact on our combined missions and goals that help make Milwaukee County a stronger, healthier, better-educated and more motivated community."
All this trolley talk is great. Now, it's time for action.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.