(This is a revision of a previous posting and presented more as a plan for a more organized journey that our village must take. Those interested in the subject, I hope ,would find a re-read worthwhile).
We need to publicly consider new approaches to developing our village, the village of Shorewood.
One way to learn about the new approaches is by critiquing some recent projects. This review might allow us to take new perspectives and take a new look at our goals in the light of these perspectives.
Sunrise was a recent project for senior assisted living and a good example of where to start. . Of course, the failure of this project was disappointing for those involved after the many hours spent on it by Shorewood Village Hall. A lot of time was spent on the acquisition of the restaurant property alone.
An important question might be, why did we become so involved and did we give any thought to the beauty of this site and the practicality of the project?
Did we really view the “service” it would add to our community, rather than merely enhance our tax base. Bringing in elderly from other communities to spend their remaining days in “that” building, merely for commercial reasons, would that add to our community lving? Would any middle-aged person now living in Shorewood look forward to ending up there in their older years?
Was this river site really meant to be a factory for processing human beings? Is this at the human scale and ambiance of the organic family? Would this have been a place where we might want be in the future?
Our interest then in the riverside development, was it only an after thought? Was it administrative expedience? Was this New York project really sensitive to village scale?
How did the two tie together? How many disabled elder would amble down the path way on the edge of the river? Would the river people come up to comfort the elderly, honoring fathers and mothers? My instincts were negative toward the compatibility and beauty of the two projects, artificially linked.
Among other commercial enterprises that I think that should take place on that site might be a sort of gathering of entertainment type enterprises both private and public, with some relevance to riverside activities.
Although I believe in saving natural settings as much as possible, I don't think that the criteria of not seeing buildings from the river's edge from down below makes too much sense in an urbanized area. What about buildings at Atwater Beach?
Our river calls for more than a landscaping approach, rather more of an Atwater Beach approach in relation to the water, except we do not have a historical model to follow on the river.
We need to take better advantage of that setting and include more complete building designs, along with their uses. Urban conditions do not provide the best pastoral settings. We need to generate Shorewood's urban beauty and excerise authority over its function.
It was known that Sunrise, a New York firm, had received approvals for land development in other communities in the country and in more than one case turned around to sell the land acquired.
I think that in all our development ventures that the developer should have stronger interest in our community and in our village than they do in the artificial increase of land values. We should view our community as a village and see to it that the developer sees the beauty in it that we do.
I was not too interested in the Sunrise proposal. But I'm still unhappy with what is there now. Its present condition might prove attractive to other undesirable-type development proposals.
I'd like to sit down with the key people involved in our redevelopment and discuss where we go from here, exploring some new approaches. What have we learned from this? Not in defense of the failed project. But on the basis of where do we go from here.
I advocated the purchase of the land that was made available to Sunrise before they came onto the sene and I still believe it should now come under Shorewood's control. And that we should come up with a plan for what we want there. Then make it available for private development in accordance with our design . We should initiate the design and stop letting the developer do the designing.
The market place is not the best place for design either. Our economic strength is in our village character. Therefore, we cannot look elsewhere for advice as to how to strengthen that aspect of our village. How many villages can we find in a metropolitan area?
Many undesirable uses are permitted were we to take the administrative zoning approach. What is needed is a Michelangelo type, ( painter, sculptor, architect, poet ). We must have some Michelangelo types in Shorewood.
Let's design the river into our community and not utilize it as a border. Capitol Drive bursting into our community from the west should diminish any border theories of design.
Another concern is the village bookstore. It's almost too late now but I still think that the Village can save our ol' village bookstore if we were willing to do so. Why don't we look at the positives of a bookstore and coffee room there, its social beauty even on a smaller scale. Let's not give up on its social value.
If there were no bookstore there, a proposal to put one there would be totally acceptable, so why start from scratch? Are outside interests going to plan Oakland Avenue without our basic village interest as well? This is not a meaningless question? Ignorance is often as dangerous as dishonesty.
We should not lose this great social asset, as it is already there and in place. It may require a minimal subsidy until we find the real means for keeping it there, which may also be in Roundy"s interests. After all, aren't these small-type entities what we are trying to attract to give our community that village character.
Why not do it? Do we want a enlongated brick wall and parking lot identifying the west side of Oakland for this total block?
Can someone really say, why not work with the present bookstore setting? Do we need another “for rent” sign on Oakland? And haven't we provided other subsidies for other public projects? Why not a bookstore and coffee room?
It's demise will become a social tombstone at this point. Will that be more beautiful than maintaining what's there now? Why the silence? In April, this empty space will remind us of what might have been.
Our projects in development and in transition need a beauty not presently found in the construction process of past developments. . Flowers as they develop have beauty in the organic "process of becoming." Village and cities need to learn from bees, for example, even from their humming sounds while building. Again, let's think about Michelangelo types. I don't believe that he would think that zoning was useful to the design of community.
Let's discuss this. I'd like to hear from individual Board members about this. What about after the battle of the “election” and after the demise of the bookstore? I have presented what would seem basic points to help guide us in our continuous development as a village. It would seem that those points too are up for discussion.
I'm not satisfied with some negative attitudes that I sense. Come on guys. How about some public discussion. Let's talk. We can bring the consultants in after we've decided on the way we want our village to be. How do they know what we want if we haven't really discussed what we want?
Every project has its problems and the economy doesn't help. We have the Zion property at about 4400 block on North Oakland (the parking lot) which needs to be reviewed. Here we need a very unconventional approach.
And the condominium proposal across the street, a couple of blocks north of there? Does it start up as before, later when the economy improves? Nothing is going to be the same when the economy improves. Everything will be different.
We should have some discussion about all these probable developments. led by people who maintain rather positive vision and at a time of day when interested citizens would be available to take part.
Where we're going as a village is something more than what would be put aside and merely to think about sometime in the future. The future is now. Or has it already passed us?