Harbor District moving forward with waterfront improvement plans

Grant will fund listening sessions this summer

The Harbor District includes nine miles of waterfront.

Harbor District Inc. and the City of Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office recently received a $75,000 grant to learn how residents in the Walker’s Point neighborhood want to improve public access to the waterfront.

The Harbor District includes nine miles of waterfront.
The inner harbor includes nine miles of waterfront.

Harbor District Inc., a nonprofit organization formed last year by the city, has been working to improve the inner harbor, which includes roughly nine miles of waterfront access including Jones Island and is bordered by First Street, Bay Street and Pittsburgh Avenue.

This grant is one of the first steps in the long process of revitalizing the area, which is getting a closer look in part because it is surrounded by three of the most in-demand neighborhoods in the city: Walker’s Point, The Historic Third Ward and Bay View.

Dan Adams, planning director for Harbor District Inc., said listening sessions will kick off later this summer.

“We want to engage the neighbors right around the district, especially to our west, and find out what type of access they want,” Adams said.

Access could mean anything from public beaches to boat launches or fishing holes. Once a plan is decided upon, design and construction will begin in summer 2017, Adams said.

“Obviously there will be limitations, because much of the land is privately owned, but the goal is to plant a seed to get something started so people have a reason to come down here,” Adams said. “We want to start a bigger conversation.”

Milwaukee was one of eight recipients of the Bloomberg Award for Partners for Places Grant Program – a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.

A coalition of local funders, including the Brico Fund, the Fund for Lake Michigan and the Zilber Family Foundation, have committed to providing an additional $75,000 in local match for the project.

Revitalizing the economy and ecology of the inner harbor, otherwise known as the Harbor District, was identified as a catalytic project in Mayor Barrett’s ReFresh Milwaukee Sustainability Plan.

“We are making the Harbor District into a world class eco-industrial district that improves public access and features more sustainable features,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement.  “We want the Harbor District to provide industry jobs and be a model for social inclusion.  This project will help neighbors to reconnect with the inner harbor as both a community and economic asset.”

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