You Paid for It: A Shining Shorewood
Earlier this month dozens of Shorewood's residents packed a village meeting hall for a progress report on the $19.5 million plan to shore up the aging business district.
The focus: Oakland Avenue and Capitol Drive. Better streets and sidewalks, new lighting and landscaping, facelifts for old buildings and plans for more new buildings with storefronts and high-end condos.
To get things rolling, Shorewood borrowed nearly $3.5 million through bond sales. Revenue from those bonds bought the first round of street-side improvements, and created a huge pile of cash that the village offers to developers as incentives to build.
However, village leaders aren't advertising the fact that if the redevelopment doesn't happen as fast enough, taxpayers would be on the hook to pay back those bonds.
"It's a fluid plan," admitted board president Guy Johnson. "we know that things are going to change, but if you don't have a plan that you're starting with, you're just going to let randomness take over, too, and that's what we're trying to avoid."
Despite the risk, if all this does work out, some projections show Shorewood's business district could be worth $100 million to $400 million more than it is today in just 14 years."
For some thoughts on issues other than Shorewood, visit my other blog at
Imagine you are standing in front of a group of peers, trying to explain something about the tax code or Village parking regulations. During your presentation you become distracted by the sound of ripping paper or fabric of some kind. You turn and ask, “What is that?” and watch the group turn to look at the guy in the back of the room opening and closing the Velcro bands on his running shoes, attempting to get just the perfect fit. Rip, tighten, rip, tighten, rip tighten. He is so distracted by the sound and action that it is apparent he jumped off your message train many stops ago. He notices it is dead quiet in the room and looks up. Hands go back on his lap and publicly shamed eyes are back on you as he pretends you are fascinating once again.
During the Cold War, there was a real possibility of armed conflict between the NATO Forces and the Warsaw Pact Forces.
I figured out that each of the four rooms in my little Snow White house costs me $66 a month in taxes. They aren’t even that nice. It makes me wonder at tax time, “What am I doing here?” I think Shorewood is a great place on each side of a great avenue, don’t get me wrong, but without a school aged child or sidewalk plowing I’m starting to reconsider. If I’m paying that much for my four "spaces" (as they call rooms on HGTV) then I need a little more bang for my buck. I need the turf in my yards replaced with something I don’t need to mow, weed, or get neurotic about. I need new lighting inside and out, maybe something that won’t rust, and so distinctive that it would just scream "Shorewood taxpayer!" Now where could I get outdoor lighting like that, hmmmm? I need more places to walk in my house; all I have are four worn pathways that cross in the middle of my dining area. Maybe a nice plaza...
It has been very rough on the small businesses in Shorewood this winter, as the Village is unable to deal with the snow that blocks their business entrances from the street. I have written many blogs about that and it is still a problem, but not one that I will address in this Posting.
I am very sensitive to the snow and ice situation, as I have had both a hip and knee replacement in the past four years. The last thing I need is to try to traverse ice and snow when patronizing a business.
We need new holidays. Valentine’s Day is coming up, preceded in abundance by “the holiday season”, Thanksgiving and the Superbowl of childhood holidays, Halloween. The more you know about the origins of these days the more you may question our embrace of them. Here’s an appetizer. One theory regarding the origins of Valentine’s Day involves cutting strips of sheep, dipping them in sacrificial blood and slapping women with them. And the women liked it. Makes you want to Google, doesn’t it?
Progress reports will be coming out soon. They used to be called report cards, but “progress reports” sound so much more optimistic, like there’s still hope. The sharpest minds in the field of education have tried for years to find some way to communicate human academic, social, emotional and intellectual growth with a time saving system employing only 5 letters or 4 numbers. Although we all know it’s not possible, the rest of the world needs a basis for comparison. A, B, F, 3, 1? Which letter would you chose to summarize progress in your slice of existence? You see the struggle…
This week lots of kindergarten parents are having to face one of the emotionally difficult realities of raising a child, particularly the first one, and that is admitting that your little pooky-doo, sweet pea, or silly willy will have to go to the "big school" soon and be placed under the care of a total stranger in a single grade or multiage classroom. Although it can become as laborious as deciding on a new house if you let it, choosing the right kind of first grade environment for your child in Shorewood is like choosing between Harvard and Yale; you can’t go wrong. I thought, however, that you might appreciate a helpful list of things to look for when visiting any classroom. Generally, it’s a good idea to set aside what you would have liked when you were a kid, what you've read, what other parents have advised or what you‘re assuming your child would like. The sooner you get rid of the notion that you know your child inside and out the better, because after the big school comes middle school and if you don't get it by then, they'll make it all too clear in the most unsubtle ways. That said, please consider the following:
A new tool for elementary students…flatware. Gone are the days of the puckish spork, nemesis to all who have had to use it for soup, cutting meat or spearing hard vegetables. The graveyard piles of headless sporks are gone forever, or at least until June when they take inventory of the remaining flatware. Kids are creative and ever-thinking. I didn’t realize it was quite so easy to make letters of the alphabet with bent stainless steel.
Global becomes Local as Presidential Primary comes to Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Suburbs such as Shorewood become Very Important ....... the Question becomes Hillary or Barack ?
As the Wisconsin Primary is coming soon and the Candidates increase the attention they are giving to the Dairy State --- it is very possible that as Wisconsin Goes --- so Goes the Nomination ! McCain is the Presumptive Candidate for the Republicans -- and based upon his "Independent" Leanings and willingness to work with the other side of the aisle for the Better Good --- even with our own Russ Feingold, McCain is the candidate I favored from the Republican Field.
On the Democratic side, it is "tooth and nail" between Clinton and Obama .... a race that may not be ultimately decided until it goes to the Convention Floor ! For the record, I am very supportive of Obama.
Be Careful on the Ice and Snow when Voting at Lake Bluff --- Quick Survey of Schools Find Walkways Not Cleared
Did my civic duty at the Lake Bluff school --- and was amazed that the lot had not been cleared of the snow and ice.
Once you get close to the entrance, there was some clear pavement, but the rest of the lot is a broken hip waiting to happen.
I think if elementary school teachers want to be respected as professional people we have to cut out a few things, first of which is “Pajama Day“. Imagine going to your workplace, say as a psychiatrist, attorney, international banker or salesperson donning slippers and pajamas over your underwear and then being forced to keep them on all day long. You don’t have to do that, do you? Well, guess what’s coming up in a school near you very soon?
Driving by the Lake Bluff school this morning, I observed that the sidewalks were still covered with hip breaking ice and snow --- and at the front entrance on Lake Bluff, there is such a large patch of ice --- almost pond size --- that the kids could go skating during their break !!
The School District is not alone in making Shorewood dangerous to walk in winter --- driving through the Village, it seems about 60% of the homeowners have not made their sidewalks safe either.
Do you feel the Oscar buzz? Me neither. I don’t know who goes to those parties here in cow country, but I know there are some; people who get dressed up like stars and go out for a night of oysters on the half shell and beer, then sit and watch TV. Dressed up football. It always comes back to that, doesn’t it? It’s an upscale tailgate party with the common goal of getting drunk and not caring that much who wins and who loses.
I have been astounded by the lack of concern for dealing with the Snow and Ice and making Shorewood a Truly WALKABLE Community.
I have to admit that I was becoming discouraged about the lack of response and discussion to my postings on the subject, until Suzanne Rosenblatt added a posting to her blog about the dangers in trying to navigate Shorewood this winter, and the indifference that the Village Administration has shown.
It has been very obvious that Shorewood has not been enforcing its ordinance regarding the clearing of walkways of snow and ice. Despite all of our tax money spent on advertising Shorewood as a Walkable Community --- the Village Administration has truly fallen down on the job of actually making Shorewood Walkable.
Two of the Shorewood Trustees who have touted Shorewood as a "Walkable" Community, and who have voted to spend our tax dollars advertising Shorewood as Walkable, have not cleared their own sidewalks in front of their houses.
I’m hearing from friends that a lot of twenty-somethings have taken to either moving back to or remaining in the homes of parents. While it’s great to see the kids, seeing their laundry and dishes can get old after a decade. I was thinking about what we teachers could do to prevent this kind of nesting, even as children enter first grade. I came up with a few.
I was listening to a piece on the radio about the power of play in the lives of young children- unstructured play, not adult directed games with rules, winners, losers and only one ways of doing things. As carefully as we manage their day in the classroom itself, we have extended that control to social life as well. We tell them exactly what to do, when, where and how. There are rules about sitting on slides, playing on ice, picking teams, who can play on which fields, how to swing and rules stating that no one can knock down the snowmen or snow forts of others.
When I wrote a number of postings concerning the lack of snow and ice clearing on sidewalks throughout Shorewood, it became apparent from responses I received from Readers and postings from other bloggers, that a lot of us don't know how the system actually works here in Shorewood.
I contacted Chris Swartz, the Village Manager, who explained that the task for enforcing the ordinance regarding snow and ice removal is in the purview of the Shorewood Police Department. I confess that up to that point, I was under the impression that it would have been the Building Inspection Dept that would have been in the forefront.