2015 year of change, renewal for Elm Grove
Busy year with change in recycling program, creek work, saint visit

By Chris Bennett - Special to The Freeman

Dec. 14, 2015

ELM GROVE - The biggest news out of Elm Grove in 2015 is either stinky or saintly.

On April 1, Elm Grove switched garbage and recycling contractors from Advanced Disposal to Johns Disposal. The change came about as a result of Waukesha County switching from dual-stream to single-sort recycling.

“It’s something that touches every single resident’s life,” Elm Grove Village Manager David DeAngelis said. “They all have trash, and they all have to get rid of it.”

The start of any new municipal program brings its share of hiccups. The times for pickup of garbage and recyclables changed, as did the route followed by the trucks.

“So far, they’ve done a wonderful job and they’ve been great to work with,” DeAngelis said of Johns. “There’s been a lot of conversation and occasionally consternation over the switch. All in all, our recycling numbers are way up, and things are going really well.”

Elm Grove is one of 25 communities in Waukesha County that participate in the Waukesha County recycling program. Going from dual-stream to single-sort means combining all recyclables in one bin, as opposed to one bin for paper and another for plastics.

Waukesha County works in tandem with the city of Milwaukee on recycling. All material collected in Elm Grove and Waukesha County is processed at a facility in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley. The Materials Recovery Facility is capable of sorting, baling and shipping up to 60,000 pounds of material per year, according to published reports.

The facility processes more recyclables at a central location, which lowers processing costs and should increase proceeds from the sale of the recyclables. DeAngelis said the switch is generating more revenue for Elm Grove. 

The village still offers walk-up service and collects trash and recycling receptacles near the house. In the past residents used a wheeled cart, and not the new blue receptacle that resembles a garbage can.

Saint visit, creek work other highlights

A saint visited Elm Grove the weekend of Oct. 16 when the remains of St. Maria Goretti were displayed at St. Mary’s Visitation Church, 1260 Church St.

Goretti, an Italian girl, was one of the Catholic Church’s youngest saints. She died in 1902 of wounds suffered in an attempted rape. She forgave her attacker as she died, and he repented and turned his life to the Lord.

Elm Grove also pursued natural improvement projects in 2015, in addition to changing who grabs garbage.

DeAngelis said the village received a grant to “daylight,” in his words, part of Underwood Creek. Underwood Creek flows through downtown Elm Grove and is constricted and topped by concrete.

According to published reports, Elm Grove received a $75,000 grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan, and must raise $75,000 of its own.

Another event that generated buzz in 2015 is the inaugural Great Elm Grove Campout. The campout took place in Village Park the evening of Aug. 8.

“It was a huge success,” DeAngelis said. “We won a recreation award for it. A lot of people talked about how they can’t wait for next year.”

Next year is just a few weeks in the near future, and will bring its share of noteworthy events.

“We’ve got a couple of projects coming that are going to be fairly time-consuming,” DeAngelis said.

DeAngelis said replacement of the Watertown Plank Road Bridge in downtown Elm Grove will take place in the summer of 2016.

“Obviously you have to close a road in order to replace a bridge, and it is right in the middle of our business district,” DeAngelis said. “It’s going to be a challenge to be as quick and painless as possible with the construction.”

DeAngelis said the village could not secure Wisconsin Department of Transportation funding to address the bridge, and will execute repairs on its own.

In conjunction with replacement of the bridge the Canadian Pacific Railroad crossing close by will also be repaired, DeAngelis said. Canadian Pacific will handle the repairs.

DeAngelis also said there will likely be news of development or redevelopment in Elm Grove’s downtown coming at some point in 2016.