Recently, nearly 100 neighbors and interested people attended a meeting called by Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy to address the American Transmission Company’s proposal to build 138,000-volt power lines though a small neighborhood in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa. As a representative of a school in that neighborhood, I share my neighbors’ grave concerns.
While we all understand and respect the need for more power, we find it disconcerting that the ATC has proposed burying the high-powered transmission lines underground just blocks away along 92nd street, yet would put them up on 95th street above the heads of parishioners at St. Therese Church, the 420 school children and 90 teachers at Milwaukee Montessori School, the 200 residents of a nearby apartment complex, other neighboring homes, and all of those who currently enjoy Cannon Park.
During the neighborhood meeting, people directed many questions to ATC representatives concerning safety and health risks as well as the potential for declining property values in the neighborhood if the lines are built above ground. After the ATC fielded all of the questions, those present demanded that the ATC bury the power lines if it moves forward with either of the options along 95th or 92nd streets.
Those present are not the only ones with a concern: the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center’s executive director has said publicly that he thinks the above ground power lines are seriously questionable and that Wauwatosa residents would never accept them.
The UWM Foundation, an institution that has invested millions in a nearby research park, has also now indicated that building overhead transmission lines in an area that had a stated commitment to the environment and innovation seemed backwards.
Though the ATC may state that the Public Service Commission will make the ultimate decision on where the lines will go, we hope that the groundswell of opposition will spark the ATC to propose an option that would bury the lines underground.
This would show that the ATC cares about the people it claims to care about. That action would also show a real and believable commitment toward keeping our neighborhood safe and healthy for residents, while maintaining goodwill with all of the business leaders, church members, school children, families, and neighbors in our area.
Monica Van Aken, Ed. D, is the head of school at Milwaukee Montessori School. One of ATC’s four proposed routes for the 138,000-volt power lines would run alongside and above the school’s property.