Urban Planning and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
noon - 1:30 p.m. CDT
Milwaukee, WI, United States
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James Tarantino, the Director of Economic Development for Milwaukee County, gave a very informative lecture on the history of and future plans for the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Mr. Tarantino started by covering some fundamentals to planning theory, in particular the importance of stimulating economic growth. He illustrated that the growth rate for the Chicago Tri-State Metropolitan Area is falling relative to the national growth rate, and that Milwaukee needs to respond to this decline in order to maintain its regional significance.
After setting the stage, Mr. Tarantino described the genealogy of the former County Grounds into its present state as the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, highlighting particular arrangements and agreements that have influenced the current planning process. The MRMC is a “co-located group of high value, highly specialized medical research and treatment institutions,” that in its entirety employs over 16,000 people in the area. This geographical partnership holds enormous potential to develop into a regional (and perhaps national) health destination, and Mr. Tarantino outlined the planning process that is currently underway to guide the campus’ growth.
There are two plans overlapping plans that are being developed that affect the MRMC: a city plan for the entire County Grounds, of which the MRMC takes up one quadrant; and the MRMC plan, which is a land use and transportation plan for the specific MRMC quadrant. In conjunction with these, there is a Bus Rapid Transit plan that would run from downtown Milwaukee to the MRMC, which is also currently in the planning process. The end goal for MRMC is to “come together to create a thriving healthcare destination" that promotes the efficient use of land and resources by establishing a coherent vision for the continued harmonious growth of the five partners.
There are many moving pieces in each of these planning processes, and Mr. Tarantino elaborated on the difficulties these can present. From neighborhood concerns, to native butterfly habitats, to mass pauper graveyards, the grounds on which the MRMC campus sits is rife with barriers to development. Forming consensus around how to navigate these barriers is another challenge, as the MRMC is comprised of five independent entities. Additionally, the plan involves the transfer of county-owned land to the MRMC, and this process carries with it issues such as determining who is responsible for what services. Fortunately, there is unified political will that is supporting the planning process, such that overcoming these hurdles is an achievable future.