Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"De gustibus non est disputandem."

"There is no accounting for taste."
There was a gentleman who spoke at the PEE Committee meeting who stated that the part of the Milwaukee River where the North Avenue Dam was removed (shown above) is the most beautiful part and the best for recreation, feeling that the section up by Lincoln Park- the section where the river is impounded by the Estabrook Dam- is extremely unattractive. (I took this shot from the pedestrian bridge to Caesar's Park. I know it's brown. It is not officially spring yet, and things are still kind of brown.) That is one opinion, welcome in a world where differing opinions are respected.

Here is another shot I took the previous day, though, off Commerce Street not far downstream from the area of which he spoke. Not quite so attractive. Maybe the condo owners think so. But it is hardly a natural-appearing area. I call these "side dams"- they hem the water in from the sides, elevating the water level, and curbing the natural ebb and flow that a stream or river would have.

Awhile ago I used to work in for Special Recreation programs. There was a group of autistic adults who used to come to class and they taught me a lot. One of the women used to ask me the same question every night. "Why are people different?" she would ask me, and then give me the answer: "Because people like different things!" Then she would hand-flap and run away, a laughing Buddha. I think of this often. Why don't other people understand this? Is it a truly difficult concept? Is this city too small to have different sections of the river, for people with different taste? for people who "like different things?"


Anonymous said...

Correction, I said The area from Estabrook to North Avenue is the most beautiful stretch of the river. You've misquoted me.

Please reference the photos here for a better understanding:

Yes, there are probably better stretches up river, (Not Lincoln Park) but I didn't have time to get into a diatribe about the beauty of a free flowing river vs. an impoundment.
I had to wing it after that ludicrous statement that You can't canoe the river above North Avenue. What was that all about?

The River Otter said...

I apologize for misquoting you, "anonymous." But, again, what is "most beautiful" is an opinion, and...de gustibus non est disputandem. You can indeed canoe the river above North Avenue; it is a different type of canoeing than can be done in the impoundment.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog you have here River Otter. I recently discovered your blog vis-a-vis the classic angler. I love to read and see images of my favorite river in this part of the state.
I do agree with anonymous. My favorite sections of the Milwaukee River are downstream of the dam through Estabrook park, Hubbard Park all the way down to North Ave Bridge. I don't particularly like the sections you show in those images. I also really really love the sections of river below Grafton.

I have explored just about every section of the Milwaukee River and, in my opinion, the most trashed and ugly section of that river is the section directly upstream of the dam. Bottles buried in the sediment, plastic bags hanging from logs, diapers in the bushes. It is just plain awful the garbage that gets deposited behind the dam structure and left even after the impoundment is drawn down.

Regardless of which sections of the river are 'best', I think we all need to work together to ensure that the river we all love and the surrounding land stays as clean, beautiful, and healthy as possible.

The River Otter said...

"Anonymous 2," I don't like that Caesar's Park photo much either, but I am trying to use my own photos or those people have given me permission to use. It's more difficult to get pretty shots this time of year. The Commerce Street shot was for ilustrative purposes only.
Believe it or not, I enjoy all of the river: the Riverwalk downtown, the really industrial part by the confluence with the Menomonee, the quite recently publicly accessible trail that runs all the way from the WTMJ tower south. Theinsville, Cedarburg...
Yes it is gross by the dam. Glad you brought that up! I think I'll make that a new post.

mikemiller34 said...

The Commerce St. view is very similar to that which I will soon enjoy from my apartment building's new Riverwalk!

The River Otter said...

Mike- I hope you are one of the people that are actually out and enjoying the view! When we've "walked the walk", so to speak, it seems like few people take advantage- the porches are empty.

Francois said...

I certainly would rather have all of that garbage in one place where it is easy to collect than all over the river banks past the dam or floating downtown into the harbor then onto the beaches. The fact is the county has not cleaned this area in years, and the rules won’t let volunteers do it in an efficient way.

I don’t understand how so many people don’t understand the benefit of having a well designed dam to collect trash and logs preventing it from becoming a real navigation hazard and /or blocking the river totally further downstream.

Think I am making this up?

Go take a walk along the Root River park way in Racine County. Enter on County Line road just east of the river. Then take a walk on the same side past Seven Mile Rd. Then tell me about the evil dam. The truth is you don’t know how good you have it.

The River Otter said...

I will have to check that area out next time I'm down that way.
The Estabrook Dam was innovative in its day and won design awards, and influenced the design of other dams that followed.
Once the PCB remediation work is completed, it would be possible for the county to remove the debris again- I am told that they can't because of the risk of stirring up the sediment with the machinery required. So that's a win-win situation.
I am told also that the spillway would function as a fish ladder, if the debris were not in the way.

Francois said...

Once again you are being given a line of B.S.

There are many “long reach” excavators available with “thumbs” or “pincher” attachments witch can go over 60 feet, lift over a ton and would not disturb the bottom soil.

I know this, I have operated them.