This is a general recap of the 10-29 meeting. It’s not the official minutes or anything, and I hope it’s slightly more entertaining than the meeting itself. The night was divided into three parts, and I will briefly discuss each one. Since this is a blog and not a newspaper and I’m an English major and not a journalism major, names and direct quotes are optional.
The first twenty minutes featured a man talking about progress on the Zoo Interchange. He had one slide as a visual and seemed more excited than anyone else in the room about structural details. I made the assumption he was some kind of engineer. A lot was said about underground work. The DOT woman seemed to understand her audience more, but she only got a few minutes in. However, she claimed traffic people were in our neighborhoods each day for the past two weeks in order to assess the situation and make recommendations. I told my daughter that they must not work very quickly, since we stood out at the bus stop and had it mostly figured out in one day. The takeaway from this part of the evening was that the DOT employees want you to know that they know it’s inconvenient for you and that it’s a big project. They also mentioned that the sheet pile driving will no longer occur at night, so you can sleep. They claim to want your suggestions. Call (Milwaukee area code) 704-6075 if you have suggestions for them.
Wisconsin Lutheran College presenter (I think Alderman Murphy called him Jim) wanted to present many slides and demonstrate for the audience why the WLC parking structure would be beneficial to the community. Unfortunately, the speaker had not prepared himself for the likelihood of a hostile crowd, and he only got through a few slides before he was being hounded by questions, and it was sometimes the same question over and over from the same person. The collective audience kind of wanted to say, “Dude, chill!” Because a few neighbors did not believe the numbers and failed to let the rest of us see the whole presentation, all I can tell you is that WLC plans on adding around 350 spots to their 350 spots. Alderman Murphy said the structure would house 1.5 miles of on-street parking. In my estimation, that’s up and down about like 8-10 of our north-south city blocks, but I’m not a boring engineer, so I could be wrong. Anyhow, WLC likely does not need approval from us because the parking garage will be in Wauwatosa. I wanted to ask more about other campus buildings, students who live on our blocks, and promotion of a sense of community, but I figured the presenter had been badgered enough. The article is on this site, anyhow. The takeaway from this part of the evening was that WLC IS working to address parking concerns as Ravenswood enforces parking restrictions. Our pitchforks were out for Froedtert and construction crews by the end of the presentation, anyhow. Personally, one of my main concerns was loss of tax base to exempt church entities, and the fact that the new “dorm” is a tax paying apartment complex (owned by 8800 Concord or WLC) made me happier, even if many homes and apartments on 89th, 90th, and 91st are tax exempt.
The meeting had become of a free-for-all by the time the city engineer from DPW took the floor. They’re in charge of signs and enforcing parking. The police were there, but parking checkers are not police officers, so the cops just talked about speeding tickets. Anyhow, when neighbors south of Bluemound realized they could have two-hour parking or no winter parking, they started to jump on the idea. The engineer said they could add the signs. Then someone said it might be inconvenient. Then more discussion. I myself have asked twice about parking restrictions on my block, and both time I was told by the alderman to put together a petition, but it seemed as if 2-3 neighbors from each block were suddenly making huge decisions that were going to affect 20-30 of their neighbors on those blocks. There was never a vote taken or a petition organized, so I’m not sure how it turned out. The other concern was the triangles at 93rd and 91st and Michigan. That may get a stop sign, but I’ll be interested to see drivers stop at it. 91st and Wisconsin may get a three-way stop. One resident floated no left turns, while another suggested reopening left turns on 93rd--both suggestions were immediately embraced by the engineer and then shot down by the crowd. Once again, I’m not sure if a specific plan was added for Wisconsin, besides adding 50 feet of no parking before each intersection, which may help visibility. Alderman Murphy was visibly upset at one moment when a citizen complained that the “Your Speed Is” trailer had been dead on the street for a week. The takeaway from this part of the night is that traffic and road decisions should probably be made by engineers or planners over the course of some time and BEFORE everyone is in a frenzy rather than by a group of the angriest 10% of a neighborhood.
My seven year-old daughter was not impressed with the meeting. Honestly, I can kind of see why, since we received a lot of info we already knew, harassed the speaker trying to give us new info so that he skipped a lot of it, and disagreed on how to best proceed, even as all of us know there is a need for changes. On the way home, she mentioned “the boring guy who never smiled and had to call on other people to talk the whole time.” I couldn’t really figure out which presenter or neighbor she meant, but it was a good reminder why only a small percentage of the population shows up for these meetings.