I was able to speak to Sandra, a communications employee from the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. Mostly, she asked me questions about the meeting and about my opinions of traffic and other concerns. I am assuming she sees it as her job to decide what action might be necessary in order to improve community relations. In fact, I believe she mentioned at one time that one or more community relations people worked for the medical center, which kind of surprised me.
Anyhow, Sandra had a pleasant, almost hypnotic voice, but she expressed some surprise that the neighborhood meetings existed and that her hospitals have never attended those meetings as far as my memory goes. She was also surprised when I mentioned the garbage created by WLC construction and MRMC employees in the area near the ponds on Wisconsin. Beyond that, she performed her job admirably as someone being used to control a public relations situation.
She was more apt at asking me questions than answering mine, but I was able to garner some information from her. As far as what MRMC has or will do to improve our neighborhood, she responded by discussing the butterfly park. I said I thought it was a UWM thing over there, and we agreed that it was not our immediate neighborhood and something MRMC could promote more. She then asked me what I thought would count as neighborhood beautification, which caught me a bit off-guard. I suggested parks, public art, signs, and just not littering, but I will add more to a list at the end of the article as I come up with them.
Sandra said they send out emails to employees reminding them to use Watertown Plank and avoid the local neighborhoods. I recommended adding something about speeding. She also mentioned that the long term plan includes discussions of more efficient use of the roads through the complex (92nd and 87th). She did not have a real answer as to why these plans are only being considered now, years after either of those roads made any sense.
A final issue that Sandra thought was all Milwaukee but Alderman Murphy implied was at least partially MRMC was the widening of Wisconsin Avenue. Either way, it should be decided before the DOT plans the new bridge. This decision may depend on traffic after Watertown Plank fully reopens. My personal choice would be to go back to the buses and bikes idea of 20 years ago, but what about a hybrid of no parking, one lane in each direction, and bikes on the other side? But I digress.
Sandra also told me in a fairly vague way that all of the entities of MRMC were now trying to work better together in order to figure out parking. Apparently, they had thought it was a good idea to work apart, even with 40,000 patients and employees passing though each day. Criticisms aside, we hope the MRMC realizes the importance of keeping parking off of the streets to the south and places any new parking along Watertown Plank.
Let's extend the article to the beautification ideas, some of which overlap with WLC.
1. Pick up garbage - AND provide public garbage cans and contact info if messy
2. A park or legitimate public area along Wisconsin Ave.
3. Public art, especially in a boulevard on Wisconsin Ave.
4. Signs and/or lights that let visitors know they're in a special area of town
5. Road or sidewalk improvements, including better ways to cross Wisconsin on foot and really nice bus shelters, on and off campus.
6. Bike and pedestrian lanes/trails - not just along Wisconsin, but through MRMC and the County Grounds
7. A community urban garden for use by local residents, maybe a place to plug in or recycle, too
8. Hosting of neighborhood events
9. Employees/students volunteering to help elderly or disabled with house or yard work
10. Operate businesses of interest to community members, like coffee shops, open to the public, that might bring community members there (coupons)