John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
Like many people, the groups that have been working to purchase Seminary Woods and place it in a conservancy so that it will be protected forever were interested to learn last summer that Cardinal Stritch University planned to purchase the Cousins Center and turn it into a south campus.
However, in late November, Stritch revealed that it also plans to purchase the 84 acre WE Energies land that runs to the south and west of the Cousins Center and adjoins the Seminary Woods proper.
This cannot be allowed to happen.
The WE Energies land is a brownfield. It contains coal ash that has been capped and buried. Because the cap must remain intact, that land was deemed "undevelopable". Now, Stritch plans to put at least five athletic fields, bright lights, stadium seating, parking lots, roadways and a field house on this land.
In 2006, WISPARK, Inc., the development arm of WE Energies, indicated the capped land would be kept as a green-space buffer for the woods. WE Energies has even planted the land with prairie grasses and plants. The property has become an important environmental site in itself, as well as an essential component to the health and preservation of Seminary Woods. Animals from the Seminary Woods use the land for foraging and hunting, and the entire tract protects the woods from human impacts related to development
A DNR Memo of October 10, 2008, states that the WE Energies land:
* Has been identified as part of the "Seminary Woods - St. Francis Lakeshore Legacy Place" in the Wisconsin Land Legacy Report, and is a special site most important to preserve;
* Is one of the last undeveloped grasslands of over 40 acres remaining in Milwaukee County;
* Is a nesting area and important migratory stopover area for bird "Species of Greatest Conservation Need";
* Is one of only four sites in Milwaukee County where the Dickcissel, small grassland bird, observations have been reported in the last 40 years;
* Shelters wetland indicator species Nodding Lady's Tresses, Spiranthes cernua and the State - endangered Bluestem Goldenrod, Solidago caesia;
* Contains important wetlands, which are threatened by athletic facilities and parking lots;
* May already have contaminated soil and groundwater.
MONDAY, JANUARY 5, 7 PM.
ST. FRANCIS CITY HALL, 4235 S. NICHOLSON AVENUE
The City of St. Francis must change the zoning on the Cousin Center and WE Energies land in order for Stritch's plan to proceed. Stopping the rezoning may be our last chance to preserve the Seminary Woods. If WE Energies land is developed, it will complete the noose of development that will eventually choke the life out of the Seminary Woods.
WE URGE YOU TO ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARING AND SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE REZONING.