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Milwaukee mayor holds public meeting on $124M streetcar project

Amid controversy, Mayor Tom Barrett holds a public meeting on Milwaukee's multimillion dollar streetcar project.

\"We are responding to the economic growth that we've seen in this area,\" said Mayor Barrett.

Aside from economic development, and making commutes potentially easier, Mayor Barrett says a top goal of the streetcar program is drawing and retaining young talent in Milwaukee.

\"They are less likely to be purchasing a home, they are even less likely to purchase an automobile,\" said Mayor Barrett.

The mayor emphasized the amount of debt millennials still have after finishing school and dealing with the recession.  He also emphasized the need for more public transportation options in the city.

\"I take the bus a lot, I take the bus, everyday to work,\" said Andy Nelson, who supports the streetcar project.

Nelson agrees with Mayor Barrett's remarks, he thinks the streetcar is a necessity.

\"It's interesting that this has become so politicized,\" said Nelson.

Ald. Tony Zielinski calls the project a waste.

\"The vision is this is going to cost taxpayers a whole hell of a lot of money and it's going to be a major boondoggle that will continue to cost the taxpayers money year in and year out,\" said Ald. Zielinski.

He's among the common council members against the mayor's vision for a modern streetcar.

\"That area downtown really doesn't need development like the central city does,\" said Zielinski, \"if you want to promote economic development, put it in the central city!\"

The mayor still defends his vision and plan to retain the city's young talent.

\"I want to have young people of all races, I want them of all economic backgrounds, I want them in the city, because it's the future,\" said Mayor Barrett.

The gathering comes  ahead of a Common Council meeting next Wednesday where the project will be discussed.  The Common Council meeting also falls on the same day as a deadline for a petition to put the streetcar project on the ballot.
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