|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2004|
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathy Gaillard (414) 286-8531
Milwaukee Mayor Barrett Says Public Works, Water Works Consolidation at Tower Site Would Save Millions
Relocation will help stimulate development for 35th Street corridor
Milwaukee -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced a proposal to consolidate the Department of Public Works Traser Yards and two Water Works facilities at the Tower Automotive site that will lower costs to taxpayers and improve service delivery. The proposal will be presented to the Common Council's Public Improvements Committee on Wednesday.
"This agreement is an example of city government working smarter and more efficiently," Mayor Barrett stated. "We will be able to provide residents with quality services while consolidating facilities and bringing costs down."
Common Council President Willie Hines stated, "The move to Tower is a great location that will be a benefit to the entire city."
History of the relocation effort
The Common Council approved $2.5 million in the 2004 budget for site selection and preparation costs associated with relocating the Traser Yards from 6th and Canal Streets. The move of the Traser facility – a DPW central maintenance yard – was programmed as part of the Menomonee Valley redevelopment plan, approved by the Common Council in 1999.
The initial cost estimate by the Department of Public Works (DPW) to move to a site on the city's south side was $20 million. Mayor Barrett suggested earlier this year that the city consider the Tower site rather than the site in Bay View as a way to both save money and spur development. A working group consisting of city departments endorsed the move to Tower earlier this spring.
The Tower Automotive location is a largely underutilized 148-acre manufacturing site in the area of N. 35th Street and Capitol Drive. The site became even more attractive when the Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) also agreed to consolidate and relocate two of its distribution yards to this location. The distribution yards perform similar maintenance services on the City's water lines. The Council had previously approved $8 million for the relocation of the two Water Works yards. Funding for this consolidation had been authorized for several years, and Water Works has been looking for new sites since 1998.
Traser Yards has 250-300 employees. The two Water Works distribution facilities, one on Cameron Avenue and the other on Lincoln Avenue, have a combined employee count of 135 workers. Some of the efficiencies resulting from combining Traser Yards and MWW Distribution are shared office support and dispatch, inventory, material storage and equipment repair. There will be no layoffs as a result of the move, though 12 – 15 positions could be eliminated over time through attrition.
The cost savings
Operational savings at the new facility are estimated at $1.3 million annually for Water Works and $30,000 for Traser Yard. Additionally, almost $9 million in current facility repair needs are avoided by constructing new facilities. An analysis by the City's Budget Office of co-locating the Water Works and Traser Yards indicates a total cost saving to the City of at least $13.2 million over 25 years.
Benefits to the community
Businesses surrounding W. Capital Drive and N. 35th Street would benefit from consumer traffic generated by City employees who would be based at the newly relocated yards. Positioning of the City yards at Tower would stimulate additional redevelopment at the complex, including retail and manufacturing facilities.
Alderman Willie Wade, whose district includes the Tower site, voiced strong support for the measure. Wade stated, "My vision is to transform Tower into a beautiful mixed-use area, to take advantage of its location and capacity, and to extend its relationship with this community well into the future. This proposal fits with my vision."
The Tower Automotive site also has additional acreage that can accommodate eventual relocation of other city, county or school district facilities. Future consolidation could reduce costs of city services.
Mayor Barrett concluded, "City departments have worked together to develop an agreement that works. The City has great challenges before us, but we overcome some of those challenges when we can coordinate as we have done on this relocation."