Monday, March 23, 2009

Fond memories part II and a vision for the future

My mom told me this story: “My friend and I went crabbing on the Kinnickinnic River in the early 50's between South 27th and 29th Streets. It was fun. We used raw liver my friend brought and tied onto string. We put them in a bucket of water (because they were alive) and my friend took them home. I seem to remember that they cooked and ate them.” Crabs? Enough to feed a family? From the KK?

That was before they cemented in that river to prevent flooding. Above is a picture of that same stretch of the KK now, right by St. Luke's Hospital. The only living things I saw were a dove and a duck. It is sort of a nice walk, but really cementy. It would definitely be nicer if the cement were taken out and replaced with a grassy path of some kind.
I do some volunteer service at a church very near there. It's an urban area, densely populated with people who live or work within an easy walk of that stretch of the KK; St. Luke's is a bustling hospital, not abandoned and creepy like the St. Michael's building on the banks of Lincoln Creek, where the cement banks have been recently removed. Above is a shot I got a couple days ago showing what that stretch looks like since the cement was replaced with rip rap and stone. I don't think it's much more attractive, but there were definitely more (and more diverse) birds. These shots above were both taken at the same time of day, nearing dusk.

Here (it's a PDF, if that matters to you) is an example of what visionary people can accomplish in our city- "a future vision for the [KK] corridor; one that includes 'a community network of trails, open space, places and people along the Kinnickinnic River Corridor that would improve the quality of life on Milwaukee’s south side.'" The people involved in this project recognize that clean waters and recreational opportunities are necessary for the health of a community- I agree! But I also think that our city is large enough to encompass all manner of clean-water recreational opportunities- be they different types of fishing (or even crabbing with liver), bicycling a smooth riverside commuter trail that actually gets you somewhere, hiking, or paddling on-- you know I have to get it in here somehow-- a smooth dammed lake. All of these can exist at the same time. I believe in Milwaukee.


Anonymous said...

What an eyesore--that that area looks terrible now. I remember what it looked like before the cement transformed the KK River--trees, bushes, etc. What a difference. I also remember the KK River area just east of 27th street where there was a small pond and even a waterfall. We used to enjoy walking in that area. I don't think this exists now. What a shame.

The River Otter said...

There is no pond nor waterfall there now -- that sounds like it was really pretty. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

River restoration---comming to a river near you!

The River Otter said...

Yes, it is "comming" for sure- the PCB abatement.

willie dynamite said...

paddling on-- you know I have to get it in here somehow-- a smooth dammed lake.

It's not a lake it's a River. Your little group seems to be the only people that don't understand this. PCB remediation is only the first step. Why are you scared of letting the river be a river? You and your group might be suprised at how nice the river WILL be. It's sad that you can see the benefits of river resoration everywhere but your own backyard. The world is a dynamic place, don't be afraid of change. This is a wonderful opportunity to show how urban rivers can be restored and managed in the 21st century. Your limited and emmotional based perspective blinds you on what is really at stake. You live on the river, not a lake-- deal with it. The rest of the city, county and state doesn't want to or should subsidize this stagnation anymore.