Wauwatosa Mayor Kathy Ehley was determined to clear up rumors Tuesday that construction work at the State Street reconstruction project in the Village was affected by picketers.
According to an email she sent to city staff and area representatives, that is not the case.
'The question was asked this morning at the Parks & Forestry Board meeting about picketers and work stoppage on the State Street reconstruction project,' Ehley said in an email. 'There is no disruption on this city project and things are moving along smoothly.'
The city's Construction Communication Liaison David Jaeckels said members of the public are likely seeing picketers at the Aurora Behavioral Health Clinic, 1220 Dewey Ave., where construction work is being done. The site is about one-quarter mile away from the State Street project, he said, and it's likely the public sees the picketers and assumes they're for the Village reconstruction project.
'From the roadway you can't really see the construction site for Aurora,' he said, adding the picketers are with a union, likely one representing operators of heavy equipment.
Mayor speaks out
In her email, Ehley said the work at Aurora 'has nothing to do with any city of Wauwatosa construction project.'
'The Aurora project is a separate construction project on private property and has nothing to do with any city of Wauwatosa construction project,' she said.
'I am responding to this question quickly because we have worked very hard to make sure accurate information and status updates flows to the business and property owners and general public on a regular basis,' she said. 'This is a stressful time for all. They understand that the work has to be done but it is still added stress.'
The mayor then asked for assistance from other city staff and elected officials to 'follow back up with correct information' if they've shared information about picketers with anyone.
Ehley said the city and the Village Business Improvement District have developed strong communication and marketing efforts to try and minimize the impact.
'Misinformation can take on a life of its own and getting the correct information out once misinformation has started to circulate takes a great deal of effort and can cause ill will,' she said in the email.
Village BID efforts
The Village BID has launched a campaign to keep the area 'glowing' during the ongoing construction. Signs with the slogan have been posted throughout the district.
'All I was doing was sending back correct information,' Ehley said of the email during an interview Tuesday. 'We want to make sure we have accurate information out there. When misinformation starts to fly it takes on a life of its own.'
A spokesperson for Aurora Health Care referred all questions to CG Schmidt, a construction management and general contracting firm.
Rick Schmidt, president and CEO of the firm that's working on the project at Aurora, said that there have been picketers from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, but they have not interfered with work.