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Friday, July 11, 2008

Bradford Beach Makes a Comeback

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In 2004, Bradford Beach was widely considered the dirtiest beach in Milwaukee. Its E. coli bacteria count reached unsafe levels for 61% of that year’s swimming season, and while there were some encouraging signs, the overall outlook was not good. Fast-forward four years and things have changed. This summer, Bradford Beach is hosting the Bradford Beach Jam Sports and Music Festival and the Bradford Beach Rock ’N’ Roll Art Show, among other events.

“We did it,” said Sue Black, director of Milwaukee County Parks. “Bradford Beach is back. On a hot summer day, when you are looking at the high gas prices, we have a vacation spot right in our own back yard.” The repair of Bradford Beach was a “collaboration and partnership between both private citizens and corporations,” said Deb Lukovich, the committee chair of Friends of Bradford Beach.

One corporation that pitched in was Miller Brewing Co., which will be donating $500,000 over five years to help revitalize the beach. This donation is going to be used to remove algae, keep seagulls away, add lifeguards and, most importantly, try to help the beach achieve Blue Wave certification. Blue Wave certification, which is handed down by the independent, nonprofit Clean Beaches Council of Washington, D.C., is the country’s first environmental certification for beaches. So far, the only Blue Wave-certified beach in Wisconsin is North Beach in Racine.

Also in the works is a potential water garden. By using all-natural materials and not disturbing the view of the beach, Lukovich said she hoped the water garden would encourage people to socialize in a natural setting and demonstrate the importance of water. The county approved the proposal for the water garden last fall, and the goal now is to raise half a million dollars by this fall, with another half-million coming after the launch of a publicity event on Sept. 19. Even the Beach House is being revitalized. Todd Gawronski of G1 Inc., Todd Hall of X-Ray Marketing and Leslie Montemurro and Scott Johnson of the Hi Hat Group decided to turn it into a one stop shop for everything beach-related.

Items such as sunscreen, food and clean bathrooms, which used to be difficult to come by at Bradford Beach, can now be found every day. State Rep. Jon Richards, who has been involved in cleaning up Bradford Beach over the years, said this effort could be an example for other beaches in the area. “Bradford Beach went from an eyesore to a showplace,” Richards said. “We need to do that to all of our beaches in Milwaukee.”

For more information on Friends of Bradford Beach, visit Parkpeoplemke.org.

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