A fragmented view or a patchwork quilt approach to the evolution and conscious development of communities often results in negative and unexpected consequences.
We have seen the seriousness of these non-integrated events in many communities throughout the country and some in nearby communities.
Proposed solutions to problems often based on mere symptoms rather than on the overall concept of a functioning community are likely to operate contrary to what needs to be achieved.
Shorewood is undergoing a decline in school enrollment and given the social demographics is experiencing the results of an underlying trend toward a proportionately older population.
Attempts at attracting school-age children to our community operates against the general overall disseminating or scattering effect of age groups throughout the country, going against the stream, so to speak.
A community of some one hundred years also has a significant number of houses and buildings that are declining in structure, appearance and function.
Our elected officials can observe that both declining school enrollment and the condition of some of our housing stock is somewhat contributing to reducing the revenue available to the community. They are also inclined to congratulate themselves in that recognition and in seeing some of the interrelationships of these problems.
Combining these two changing elements of our community under one proposed solution seems another impeccable discovery. Yet the results of a declining school enrollment calls for one solution and attempts at redeveloping declining conditions in some of the aging housing stock calls for another.
A third goal, integrated in this whole approach has been to increase the proportion of people owning their own homes in Shorewood. Over-investment in duplexes seems to have reversed movement in that direction.
Therefore part of this proposed “incentive package” in Shorewood is aimed at divestment of duplexes not occupied by owners. This too is another problem that cannot be solved with one overall prescription.
Declining school enrollment must be solved with the aid of state programs. Divestment is a market situation which requires other approaches than that aimed at home improvement.
The “incentive home improvement program” is primarily aimed at homeowners who for one reason or another are unable to finance these improvements on their own. The question relating to this aspect of the problem is, how do we encourage homeowners to improve or facilitate the improvement of these homes in their declining condition? Converting duplexes into one-family homes is not likely a good market solution nor one financible by the community.
These three elements of the problem can be viewed as interrelated, but each element, it seems, requires its own approach. Therefore, the “incentive program” although it is a good idea and a recognition of the overall problem by our elected officials, it may require a deeper and less superficial view of the situation and the possible means for its solution.
Let's look at what we are trying to do here and remember that the devil is in the details. Do we really think that duplex divestment and improvement and owner occupancy will significantly attract young families with children, if so isn't this a fairly indirect and unconntrolable means for doing so.
Should we finance the divestment of non-owner occupied duplexes?
And is our pilot project, our research project, adequately constructed to provide us information for an overall approach to the problems that we've outlined?