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Milwaukee code enforcement head leaving job

Dahlberg will lead similar department in Cincinnati

By: Erika Strebel//September 25, 2015//

Milwaukee code enforcement head leaving job

Dahlberg will lead similar department in Cincinnati

By: Erika Strebel//September 25, 2015//

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Art Dahlberg may be moving to Cincinnati, but that’s not going to take the Packers fan out of him.

“Green and gold forever,” he said.

Dahlberg, head of the city of Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services, will be moving to the Queen City to lead a buildings and inspection department that, he said, has a lot in common with the place he’s leaving behind. For one, said Dahlberg, whose last day is Oct. 16, his new job will have him involved in both development and code enforcement.

“My time here has been wonderful,” he said. “I’ve really come to appreciate the community and view Milwaukee as home. It was a very tough decision to reach the conclusion that I was ready for a change.”

Dahlberg said he credits Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s support for what he and the department have accomplished since he came to the city in 2009.

“The mayor was steadfast in making certain decisions so we could really effectively help the city and attack blight,” he said. “Hundreds of blighted properties were shut down, boarded up and secured… It’s only through that partnership that that was able to happen.”

Dahlberg said he is proud the department was able to help residents cope with the recession. Not every city, especially those that reduced the size of their staffs, can boast of a similar accomplishment, he said.

Dahlberg also said he is proud of the city’s construction inspectors and plan examiners, who have helped the department unify the application and interpretation of construction codes and processes. The result, he said, has been better service to the community.

He said that a person can now come in without an appointment and, in the same day, get a review of construction plans for small commercial projects and a permit.

One of the best parts of his job, Dahlberg said, is the people that he works with, particularly the construction inspectors.

“You hear in other communities that inspectors are rude, not helpful,” he said. “I found it the complete opposite here.”

Even those who are suspected of violating codes are treated well by the inspectors, Dahlberg said.

“The city is so lucky to have them. It brings a smile to my face whenever I see that play out,” he said.

Dahlberg’s work in code enforcement resulted from a decision made when he was a student at Kansas State University.

During one summer when he was working in Kansas City. Mo., a suspended skywalk at the local Hyatt Regency collapsed during a party. When Dahlberg returned to school in the fall, the accident became a topic of discussion in a class he was taking on steel construction.

The professor cited the collapse as a prime example of why inspectors’ work is important. Various inquiries, including a series of congressional hearings, led to the adoption of stricter protocols aimed at making sure design engineers and fabrication shops communicate properly and produce accurate shop drawings.

The events of that time left a strong impression on Dahlberg.

“For me, that was such a driver,” he said. “That was when I decided I didn’t want to be a design engineer. What I wanted was to be in enforcement and make a difference in communities.”


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