It’s Unanimous: Develop a Riverwest Bike Trail

by Sonya Jongsma Knauss

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors’ Committee on Parks, Energy, and Environment and the Committee on Finance and Audit voted unanimously to “authorize the application for and acceptance of a State Transportation Enhancement (TE) grant for the construction of a new multi-use trail segment of the Oak Leaf Trail from East North Avenue to East Locust Street,” on the west bank of the Milwaukee River. Neighborhood trail advocates hailed the decision as a big, positive step for the Riverwest community. “We’ve been advocating for years to preserve the river valley along the Milwaukee River south of Gordon Park and to create a bike trail along this corridor,” said Kimberly Gleffe, executive director of the River Revitalization Foundation. “The Foundation’s priority is acquiring this property, an abandoned railroad right-of-way, and leading the fundraising efforts to match the State TE grant at the local level.” She says that the bike trail, as part of the larger Riverway Plan, will be realized within the next two or three years if it receives state funding. According to the resolution, in order to make the trail, the county must acquire additional parcels of land from the former CMC railroad right of way. Vince Bushell, Planning Coordinator at the YMCA CDC — Riverwest, says that could complicate matters. “This acquisition involves a land swap and an additional grant from the State of Wisconsin Knowles Nelson Stewardship fund to buy the land. Every one is working hard to make this happen.” Bushell says he hopes to garner letters of support for the trail from as many residents and groups as possible. Anyone who wishes to lend support to the effort can reach him at 263-1830 or send letters of support to YMCA CDC — Riverwest, 604 E. Center St. Bushell and Gleffe said the effort to get trail funding was aided by the support of County Supervisors Penny Podell and Willie Johnson Jr. as well as the Milwaukee County Parks Department. Individuals that played a major role in keeping this issue alive were Pieter Godfrey, river valley resident; Angie Tornus, National Forest Service Rivers and Trails; Lillian Boese, former director of the River Revitalization Foundation; and Ken Leinbach, Urban Ecology Center in Riverside Park. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 4 – May 2002