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Glendale residents want to plug public works project

By: admin//June 29, 2011//

Glendale residents want to plug public works project

By: admin//June 29, 2011//

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By James Briggs

Residents of a Glendale subdivision are threatening to sue the city to block a planned public works project.

Glendale plans to remove grass swales from the Alberta Court subdivision and replace them with concrete gutters and curbs. Grass swales are natural channels used to absorb storm water runoff.

The project, though, would increase pollution runoff into the nearby Milwaukee River, making the switch illegal under the federal Clean Water Act, said Mike McCabe, a resident of the subdivision.

“It’s a violation to increase the amount of fecal coliform discharged into the Milwaukee River,” McCabe said.

What’s worse, McCabe said, is the city laid out plans for the project without telling subdivision residents. He said he only learned about it because he was shoveling snow when a city worker stopped by to check rain gutters.

“He said they’re going to replace swales with curbs and gutters,” McCabe said. “We hadn’t been told of that yet.”

When McCabe talked to Glendale Alderman Elliott Moeser, whose district includes Alberta Court, McCabe said Moeser promised to oppose the project if the majority of subdivision residents wanted him to. A subsequent neighborhood meeting resulted in a unanimous vote against the project by more than 50 people, McCabe said.

Moeser, though, eventually voted for the public works project, as did all Common Council members except Alderman Daniel Sweeney.

Neither Moeser nor Sweeney immediately responded to requests for comment.

“He agreed with me, as a result of aldermanic courtesy, his decision (to oppose the project) would be the decision, but he didn’t keep that promise,” McCabe said of Moeser. “The majority (of residents) are against the curbs and gutters, but he voted for them anyway.”

Alderman Robert Whitaker said he wasnít aware of the controversy surrounding the project at the time when he voted for it.

“I really don’t feel it’s appropriate to comment,” he said, “if this is going to be an ongoing legal case.”

Whitaker referred questions to City Administrator Richard Maslowski. Neither Maslowski nor Public Works Director Dave Eastman immediately responded to requests for comment.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper and Midwest Environmental Advocates, two environmental organizations that are supporting the Alberta Court residents, on Monday issued a notice of intent to sue, giving Glendale 60 days to reconsider its public works project before a lawsuit would be filed.

“We as an organization, and I’m sure the residents, feel the same — no one likes to go to court unless all other alternatives have been exhausted,” said Karen Schapiro, executive director of Milwaukee Riverkeeper. “We’re hopeful the city will respond and reconsider.”

The city of Glendale has been unresponsive toward more direct attempts at communication regarding the project, Schapiro said.

“Speaking for Milwaukee Riverkeeper, we have not received a response,” she said. “I don’t know if any of the residents individually have received a response.”


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