12-2 vote: Common Council in favor of plan to rezone, remove Estabrook Dam

MILWAUKEE -- The Estabrook Dam's days could be numbered following a vote by the Milwaukee Common Council.

The full Common Council voted 12-2 Tuesday, November 1st in favor of a plan to rezone the deteriorating dam. This, after a 3-0 vote by the Milwaukee Common Council's Zoning Committee.

The plan for the dam was released on October 3rd by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, aldermen and a representative from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

According to a statement from Abele's office, MMSD voted to approve the plan in September.

The plan to remove the Estabrook dam would require the following steps:

    Supporters of the Estabrook dam, in favor of repairing it, believe it's good for recreation and property values.

    Opponents of the Estabrook dam, in favor of removing it, believe the dam is a flood risk and public nuisance. They believe removal would be cheaper and better for the environment.

    The statement from the County Executive's Office indicates the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has declared the dam a public nuisance, and Milwaukee County, as the owner and operator of the dam, is required to solve the nuisance conditions.

    The statement indicates it would cost more (at least $4.1 million -- $600,000 more than the county has available and not including ongoing maintenance costs) to repair the dam than it would to remove it (a one-time cost of $1.7 million, which would be mostly covered by grants, according to Abele's office).

    City and county leaders say removing the dam would eliminate an eyesore and litter found in the river -- and curb the flood risk.

    Demolition is expected to begin in 2017, according to Abele's office.

    "Within a year-and-a-half, two years, when you're there -- what you'll look at is not a falling apart dam. You're going to look at a natural, beautiful, clean river, with water that's nice, with property values coming up, less flood risk and happy that you don't have to pay nature to be nature," Abele said after the committee vote Tuesday.