After Alderman Murphy emailed me about the Wisconsin Lutheran College parking structure, I began calling it a mythical parking structure because I knew nothing about it. However, I was able to read more about it on the WLC website, so now I know why Wauwatosa residents east of the college are worried. The parking structure for 360 cars will go in just east of the gym.
As with the new “200 bed residence hall” (the apartment complex on Wisconsin?), I have a few questions. What if money from Schwan’s runs out? What if WLC relocates? What if enrollment goes down and area rental costs go way down? Does WLC pay any taxes, especially on all the homes it owns? What are long-term costs and what is the rest of the neighborhood paying (besides monetarily) to allow the convenience?
Of course, I was invited to the community meeting online, had I been constantly reading their website for updates. Anyhow, they’re getting $5.5 million to build a giant building for cars. While I love buildings built for cars, I know three things about them: they are ugly, they are only used part of the time, and they cost a lot to maintain.
I have a proposal for WLC and the neighbors in the area: proximity-based parking payouts to the neighbors. I live four blocks away from WLC. (I used to walk about 10 blocks for 2-hour parking near UWM). If everyone on my block agreed to petition the city to lift the parking restrictions, at least on one side, we’d have 15-35 parking spots on our block. Let’s say each spot is worth $500 - $1000 a year this far way from campus. and we shoot for 20 spots on our block without any restrictions = $10,000 - $20,000 a year for our block to share. 20 on 92nd and 91st and 94th, all worth different amounts based on distance to campus. Maintenance alone for a parking structure may be up to $500 per space, but that type of information is difficult to confirm. I know it's expensive, and I know ripping down houses is expensive, and it's all disruptive. Anyhow, surface or road options are generally favorable if possible. On my block alone, there are also four or more driveways with extra space. I knew students at UWM who paid to use driveways, too.
I am sure that residents near UWM would have been happy to a allow more parking in front of their homes had it been planned out and partially paid for by the campus. Can WLC help pay for NEIGHBORHOOD improvements with their $5.5 million instead of more CAMPUS improvements? My wife and I always wonder at the lack of community feeling on campus at WLC compared to UWM, Carroll, Marquette, or UW-Eau Claire -- all campuses we’ve spent time on. I’m wondering if a parking structure will help this feeling or hurt it.
Taking it further, why not go north? A pedestrian bridge over Wisconsin Ave and a joint WLC / Medical Center public space south of the retention ponds for WLC, Medical Center, AND community residents to feel like there’s someplace to relax and enjoy the neighborhood, rather than a unmowed, garbage-and-goose-poop-laden sidewalk and paths.
We’ve got space and we’ve got parking, but what is that space and parking worth. My advice for local residents is to petition for stricter parking until WLC and the Medical Center PAY us for spots, I’d hope on a yearly basis. They should probably combine forces and just pay everyone in the are an amount per year for spaces. It would limit the need for expensive to build and maintain parking structures and increase a sense of community because that doctor or student will be parking on my block and paying a bit for it instead of speeding past my house.