The Shorewood Village Board has been carrying forward ill-advised policies designed to provide a linear business district, being cut through by auto traffic dangerous to pedestrians, not a “walkable community” solution.
These high volume lines of traffic are aimed at rapidly moving cars through Shorewood and not at maintaining an atmosphere for easy shopping. Traffic and shopping are two diametrically opposed activities.
We are now yielding to more movement of traffic by accepting the recent State's highway plans for improving traffic movement on Capitol, west of Oakland, with Oakland south of Capitol becoming an arm of that increased traffic.
Our shopping district, our shopping center, our community center should be at Capitol and Oakland. But instead of developing a central node there, we are getting a grand traffic intersection, operating against any type of centralized shopping.
Instead, we are trying to develop four linear shopping strips like four blades of a propeller, each disjointed from each other, from the central engine by this traffic interchanging device.
Today's economic situation along with our local situation has begun to emphasize the lack of urban planning understanding related to making a central community shopping area function. Perhaps it is the conscious or unconscious denial of what makes a community center work?
Linear shopping doesn't work but for a few exceptions and then usually where auto traffic has been removed or lessened and the pedestrian given priority.
If we are going to build our tax base on a theory that high value property can be built along traffic routes, where ground floors will accommodate shops and upper floors will be made up of condominiums, we are building on a rather shaking base not looking toward a solid-type community.
These developments, when their financing is aided by local government actions, a significant interference with the market, amount to a permanent change in our built environment, yet on rather shaky economic basis.
Developers will go for the temporary gains as they are usually able to pass these developments on, in vibrant economic circumstances. But the community is the permanent recipient of these fixed uses and fixed physical erections.
The tax base fluctuates with economic conditions. Development based on projections of future tax base may be as ill-advised as well, especially with the expected development of a high-traffic intersection at the heart of our community.
Question: If we should stop following our present policies, what should we do? Answer: Figure out how to develop a traffic-free community center at the center of our community at Capitol and Oakland.
Can the incumbent Trustees think along these lines? Can they see to it that we develop urban design solutions and policies to provide us with a real community center? Here is a good urban design problem, waiting for a good urban design solution.