The Blue Heron rookery and VK’s house

Last Saturday the paper ran a story on the Great Blue Heron rookery north of Capitol Drive and west of Brookfield Road. For fun, I looked up the area on Google maps. Here’s the interactive link for the picture below. If you want you can zoom in very closely there and even see some of the nests from this aerial view that was taken a few years ago.

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This is a pretty interesting showing of the area. In the far left corner, just to the right of the long pond, there’s an EPA Super Fund landfill. This is actually in the Town of Brookfield. To the north is the soccer park, but it’s not in this view. Where the red “a” is on the map is just north of VK’s new 22,000 square foot home that’s being built.

The rookery, roughly the darker brown green areas in this picture, has been a joy for a long time. As the area continues to be developed, it’s obvious the birds are on the move. An article written by the same reporter in May, 2004 wrote that DNR workers, “counted 27 nests in the original rookery and 45 in the newer rookery further west in the wetlands.” The most recent counts? “…16 active nests with 26 birds, adults and their young.”

In 2004 I was still on the Common Council and was interviewed for the story.

Ald. Cindy Kilkenny said, compared to other recent projects, the design was a “good idea if they can make it work.”

She said she was concerned, however, about whether the project would worsen storm water issues in that area.

“We have lakes north of Capitol Drive where we’ve never had lakes before,” she said. “There’s two feet of standing water.”

Kilkenny said she also believed the subdivision would help push the remaining herons out of a rookery there.

It pretty much looks like that’s what happened. I didn’t vote against the subdivision, though, because in the natural cycle of things, rookeries do move. The birds nest in dying trees. When the trees fall, it’s time to move on. I really think any effort to build platforms is for show, not for nature.

Another reason I didn’t vote against the subdivision in 2004 was because I’d already lost the vote to sell the city property back in November of 2002. To complicate this story a bit, keep in mind that the property the 2004 subdivision is on was once owned by the City of Brookfield. The Mayor PROMISED that this land was unnecessary in the city’s inventory – it had been reserved for a fire station for years – because there would never been a reason to move the station from current locations. So he asked us to sell it during a closed session in 2002. (That way his promise was never recorded.)

Alderman Schulz moved that the City accept the Offer to Purchase the property located at Brookfield Road and Carol Drive which was originally acquired for and which use was limited by the terms of the 1987 purchase agreement to the construction of a fire station, in that said property is no longer needed for said purpose. The sale shall be conditioned upon the written agreement of the purchaser to dedicate the wetlands on said parcel to the City as part of its overall development, at no cost to the City, said dedication being in addition to any wetland dedication normally associated with the purchaser’s proposed development. Additionally, staff and the appropriate officials are directed to execute the necessary documents to complete said sale. The motion was seconded by Alderman Garvens and carried Ayes 11, No’s 3 with Aldermen Kilkenny, Clappier and Wolff voting no.

Now, the city is moving a fire station to a park area on Calhoun because there isn’t land available anywhere else. (Welcome to the Kathryn C. Bloomberg memorial park and fire station.)

When the council approved the Compton Lane addition to Berkshire Hills, that other subdivision mentioned in the 2004 story, there was discussion as to the nesting times of the birds and if construction could avoid those. Vince Kuttemperoor wanted the very large lots for a place to build his new home. Here’s an interesting twist: there’s no one working there. That’s right – construction has been halted. The site is locked up. No trucks go in or out and there are no materials on the ground. City Hall confirmed yesterday that the home, which was to be finished by now, currently has an extension to the building permit. Initially pulled in December of 2004, the permit was extended in February 2008. He has another 18 months to finish the masterpiece. (Sorry – I didn’t even get the whole thing in the lens this time…)

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Make no mistake, this house is built to be seen. It’s probably one of the very worst locations in Brookfield with Capitol Drive noise, a view of two car dealerships, and an EPA landfill within spitting distance on a windy winter day. “Location, location, location” only works in this instance if you want to flaunt your wealth. (And is no doubt why Mayor Jeff Speaker’s supporter Brian Shecterle has bought the lot to west next door.)

I did think about calling Mr. K. to see what’s up, but decided against it. Even if he were to take my call, whatever he had to say would be something along the lines of “my superior marble was held up in customs so I am having to wait. Did I mention how wonderful I am?” It can be the one thing the real reporters do to call this story their own when they write it. VK really likes real reporters.

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So now you’re up to date. The rookery is indeed leaving because dead trees eventually fall. Yes, I’ll miss having these primitive birds fly over the house; they are so very beautiful. But, I have faith that the birds know what’s best for them and their kids, and chances are an EPA landfill next to a state highway wasn’t the next best thing.

You can expect your local elected officials to posture accordingly. Also, a few businesses may see more PR in the initiative and jump in. The nesting platforms that are there now were a cooperative effort of WI DNR, American Transmission Company, WE Energies, the City of Brookfield, and the Boy Scouts.

Me? I see the birds leaving as natural change, and completely expected. But then, that’s what I thought 4 years ago. The rest is just interesting Brookfield lore.

Comments

  1. Lucky Lady says:

    So when VK doesn’t finish the place, who will buy it? How long will it sit unfinished and vacant? Are there any other potential buyers who want to make a statement overlooking two car dealerships and Capitol Drive? City hall can always rezone it commercial and it can join the ranks of vacant commercial space in town.

  2. Tinkerbell says:

    Perhaps it could house a new school?

  3. Wow! Great site! As a resident of Brookfield, I’m learning quite a lot… !