In Shorewood, we are foremost a residential community, and we have a larger than average stock of rental units.
Yet the Village Board seems to put an inordinate amount of emphasis on the business community while putting residential and housing concerns on the back burner.
The Village Board also seems easily attracted to glamorous big dollar projects like the New Streetscaping and questionable Marketing Schemes --- the present Village Board Members is so enamored of Big Dollar Projects, that they couldn't help but get involved in a project that belongs to the School District, and ended up giving away almost ½ Million $$ for D2D.
The problems that Shorewood currently face, however, are of a much more mundane nature, such as a decreasing student population for its schools, and a housing inventory that in many cases has reached obsolescence in design and operating systems.
Most notably is the plethora of duplexes in Shorewood, that are in urgent need of updating to meet the requirements of today's families.
Contemporary families with students, the target demographic for our school system, will not settle for Two Bedroom Duplexes, with antiquated plumbing, electric and heating --- which we have way too many of in Shorewood.
Ironically, rather than address ways in which these duplexes can be re-vitalized, the Shorewood Board is seems more inclined to just make the duplexes go away !
The current plan the Board is considering is to float "sweet deal" loans to duplex owners to convert them to single family houses.
As I stated in my earlier postings, I believe the conversion of duplexes to single family houses would be counterproductive to attracting the young families with children that we desperately need --- and would make Shorewood even more unaffordable for housing.
Rather than try to solve the problem by destroying it --- I believe that Shorewood can take positive steps to update and rejuvenate the duplexes, and revitalize its population base with more families that include school age children.
Shorewood should make TIF funds available to property owners (both single family and duplex) to improve plumbing systems to copper (rather than the old galvanized pipes that are spring leaks) - update electrical to newer wiring, circuit breakers versus fuses, and minimum 200 amp service per housing unit.
TIF funds should be used to upgrade insulation and replace old in-efficient furnaces and boilers with new efficient models in both single family and duplex.
In regards to duplexes and multi family properties, owners can be encouraged to convert to efficient energy systems by mandating that all rentals must include hot water, heat and air conditioning in the cost of the rent.
BULDING CODES AND ZONING
In designated areas, where appropriate and needed, set backs, lot line and foot print requirement ratios, etc., should be amended to allow the adding square footage to existing duplexes, for more bedrooms, family rooms, etc.
Amendments would also be necessary to allow the building of more garages, which may not meet the lot line and setback requirements now, to help alleviate the parking situation. Car ports should also become a viable option.
In some cases, backyards may be all but totally eliminated, but this would not be inconsistent with high density housing that is already inherent in Shorewood.
Loss of backyard space can be offset with additional planned green spaces, interspersed in the designated areas. The loss of a few housing units for the green spaces, will be more than offset by the increased usable square footage gained in the enlarged duplexes.
The village should provide resources for both landlords and tenants, to meet the requirements mandated by housing law, and dispute resolution. The Village could also operate a clearing house for landlords to list their available units and made available to perspective tenants.
I am sure there is a lot more that can be done to improve Shorewood's housing stock and attract more families to the Village. Please share YOUR ideas in the Comments Section below !