January 18, 2005
U.S.S. Des Moines
When I was going to college in Duluth, MN a public debate brewed over putting the U.S.S. Des Moines on that city's shore. This morning, Charlie Sykes talked about the idea of bringing the U.S.S. Des Moines to Milwaukee's lakefront as a tourist attraction. (I should be spooked. That ship is following me.) Critics think it would be a big monstrocity that would ruin the views. Charlie posted links to photoshopped pictures made by Des Moines backers.
My take is that while it seems the ship wouldn't be a gangly obstruction it just doesn't fit Milwaukee. The city doesn't have a history involving navy ships. The shipbuilding that does occur in Wisconsin happens farther north in Manitowoc and Sturgeon Bay. In fact, Manitowoc has a maritime museum that includes a World War II submarine. Milwaukee isn't Norfolk, VA; Jacksonville, FL; or San Diego, CA. Brew City's ship history includes Great Lakes steamers and car ferries.
One point I must disagree with Charlie is his desire for a plan to be put together on how to develop the lakefront. To me that reeks of central planning. A plan put together today would only take into account some of the knowledge available today. (I'm getting a little Hayekian with you but bear with me.) In the future the public's needs and wants will change. That we can be sure of. A centralized plan created today would be a straight jacket for future Milwaukeans. It would also empower local officals who would enforce the plan. Based on events in the past few years that's not very wise.
Ideally, the lakeshore should be in private hands so market forces can determine how it should be used. However, Wisconsin is a state where it's practically a civil right for there to be public access to every square inch of waterfront.
"Ship Just Doesnít Fit"