Milwaukee’s southside “green corridor” growing

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MILWAUKEE -- A southside neighborhood in Milwaukee has gotten a green makeover.  For the last year, city officials have been working to transform the area on 6th Street between Howard Ave. and College Ave. into one of the first "green corridors" in the state.

There are green shrubs, green trees, and more importantly, the installation of green practices.

“We have recycled rain water streams.  We've had some solar power go in, with traffic signals in three locations,” Alderman Terry Witkowski, who represents the district said.

The three-mile stretch of the “Green Corridor” incorporates dozens of sustainable improvements including a community garden, a farmers market and solar powered crosswalks.  Bio-swales have also been built to collect storm water.

“It's taking water off the streets that's not going into the streams or not going into the sewers.  It should help in flooding situations for sure,” Witkowski said.

Witkowski and members of the Green Corridor Committee meet every month inside a green building, called the Energy Exchange, to develop plans.

“I wanted to build a center that could teach people about sustainability, mostly related to storm water management,” Bryan Simon, Chair of the Green Corridor Committee said.

The Energy Exchange is just one of several buildings that have a green roof.  The goal is to expand the concept to other businesses and even to homeowners.

“It would be a living laboratory for Milwaukee on green concepts and be the future,” Witkowski said.

So far, 20 homes have added rain gardens.  General Mills and the Islamic Community Center and School have also retrofitted parking lots with bricks to prevent water runoff.

“We've basically scratched the surface,” Witkowski said.

City officials hope to also incorporate recycling, more bicycle usage and additional solar-powered structures in the years ahead.