As I think of the type of community we can become if guided appropriately, apart from the conventional and steady unguided evolutionary and market redevelopment processes, I'm saddened as to the missed opportunities.
We're told that the “extended elderly care” project on the river is part of the master plan. I didn't see anything in the master plan that said elderly care. This is an interpretation of an interpretation. Of course, the zoning element of the plan indicated commercial, that's what elderly care is, commercial or is it residential.
Who decided that this site on the river would remain commercial or be re-zoned to a different commercial in the first place? Was this an organic market decision or the result of the social intelligence of community?
If anyone would have said that a good portion of the area along the river should be zoned open space designed to complement its river setting and be integrated with some commercial in the west portion, as well as with housing, especially affordable housing, then that would have been a plan, but that person would have probably be run out of the room.
It seems now that the latter is what the community wants. They would also want a restaurant as part of the redevelopment. So let's give the community what it wants, well-designed development appropriate for a river setting.
The best way to assure that this happens and happens correctly is by using a market technique, simply by buying it. Then the property could be developed appropriately, in the way the community wants.
We can buy it and we can control its design and land occupancy. Some of the land, we'd keep public and some we'd sell with certain restrictions by contract. Not too difficult to understand. And not a difficult or unusual business transaction. Whitefish Bay just bought a building in order to control its development and its occupancy.
We could get most of our money back and enhance our tax base at the same time. We might additionally even bring in young families rather than elderly from outside the community. “Young families” was one of the paramount goals of our so-called “master plan”.
Affordable housing for young people seems to have been another one of those goals?
Let's get back on the right track. Let's plan for the community. A well-designed community could attract sufficient property tax base on it own. Bad design and inaccurate interpretation of what citizens want will not even look all that good even as an increment of the tax rolls.