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Riverwest Neighborhood Association News

At the November 11 RNA meeting, Dave Schlabowske of the Milwaukee office of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin attended to ask for feedback on the status of bike lanes and bike rack sites in Milwaukee. Current bike routes were set up in 1993 and have not been reviewed since. BFW is currently reviewing the entire network, filling in gaps, and repainting lanes. Bike lanes on Center Street will be extended from Humboldt west to the city limits. North Avenue and Holton Street will also be recommended for bike lanes. A question was asked regarding the status of placing bike racks on city buses: BFW has been in discussion with MCTS. MCTS’s concerns are with cost (although 95% funded by federal dollars, the remaining 5% would still be significant in these fiscally tight times) and interference of the racks with tight overnight bus storage space. Although MCTS may be slow to move on this idea, County Supervisor Willie Johnson encouraged those interested to contact their representatives. Schlabowske encouraged bike riders to voice their ideas to elected officials on a regular basis. Comments or concerns may also be emailed to Development News • RIC, Riverwest Investment Co-op, held an Open House and informational meeting on Wednesday, November 19, at 7 p.m. at Linneman’s (see update, page 7 briefs). • Royal Elm trees were planted on Center Street from Martin Luther King Drive to Humboldt in early November. Thank you to Jim Wilson for the follow up needed to get this done! • Benji Timm of the Department of City Development (DCD) gave a presentation on brownfields in Riverwest. Milwaukee has been quite successful in obtaining grants for clean up. The area at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Hadley was recently approved for clean up, and DCD is proposing that the property at 3009 N. Humboldt be the next target for an EPA grant application. The property has been tested and significant pollutants were found. The area is part of a section slated for possible future (but unknown) development. Garden Park has also been targeted for brownfield grants. A motion was passed (with one abstention) that RNA support DCD’s pursuit of grant funding to clean up the property at 3009 N. Humboldt. • A well-attended meeting with near neighbors was held at the site of the proposed Art Bar on Burleigh. Owner Don Krause addressed concerns about parking, bar saturation, and a smoking section. Overall, neighbors did not express much opposition. The expected opening is February 1. • Vince Bushell reported that the prior problem regarding original land use of the former Biopak building on Humboldt has been resolved. The owners of Bella Luna will be moving ahead with their plans for a pasta factory and retail store. Guardians of Green Space The Snail’s Crossing Park project has raised close to $2000 to date and a $20,000 grant has been applied for from the Arts Council. If approved, it would provide for benches, paths, an archway, and other amenities. Some bushes will be planted this year, with more improvements forthcoming in the spring. The City has officially approved $47,000 for the project. Ald. Mike D’Amato’s upcoming newsletter will promote the park as well as encourage donations. Several plans are being discussed for the redesign of Kilbourn and Reservoir Parks. Nothing can be finalized, however, until Water Works decides whether a tank is to remain in the hill or not. Rumors of four-lane tunnels and other unacceptable ideas were expressed. D’Amato, who is a member of the Historic Preservation Commission (which would have to approve plans because of the Reservoir’s historic designation), reiterated his commitment to getting neighborhood feedback and approval for any proposed changes to the hill. Holton St. Update Jesse Greenlee of the YMCA Community Development Corporation reported that the proposal for the Main Street Design project has been approved for Center Street, with the inclusion of Holton Street “business nodes” at the intersections of North, Center, Locust, etc. Adjacent neighbors will be consulted as the next phase of the planning process gets underway. The Riverwest office of the YMCA CDC will continue to be located on Center Street; however, they are looking for a new co-tenant. Interested parties may contact Jesse Greenlee at 374-9444. Don Sargent of Northeast Milwaukee Industrial Development Corporation (NMIDC) reported that the Wegner Door building on Holton Street has a new facade design in the works. However, the current tenant, Wegner Door, has filed for bankruptcy, and a search is presently underway for a new tenant. Rick Slayton of the YMCA CDC is currently taking NIP applications for 2004. The Neighborhood Improvement Project is a home improvement grant for owner-occupied single family and duplex homes. Basic eligibility requirements apply: must have owned the home for at least 2 years, be current on property tax payments, have home insurance, and meet income guidelines. He is also taking applications for the home security grant program. Contact Rick directly at 374-9441 or email Crime and Safety Jim Wilson of the YMCA CDC attended the monthly meeting held at the 5th District Police Station. Current issues are break-ins to parked cars and seasonal burglaries. Alderman D’Amato reported that a meeting will be scheduled with new Police Chief Nan Hegerty and RNA in early December. A motion was passed that RNA support a letter drafted by other East Side neighborhood organizations to encourage the Chief of Police to publish crime reports online. RNA Elections The following were elected to the RNA board. All terms are for one year, except the Vice-Chair which is two years. Chairperson — Nancy Centz. Vice-Chairperson — Jeff Barke. Secretary — Lorraine Jacobs. Treasurer — Tim Vertz. At-Large Board Members — Self Wise Allah, Sonya Jongsma Knauss, Tess Reiss, and Shawn Smart. A suggestion was made for RNA to schedule some candidate forums, particularly for the 3rd and 6th Aldermanic Districts, possibly in January or February. The next RNA meeting and Christmas Party will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 9, at the YMCA CDC office at 604 E. Center St. Feel free to bring goodies or drinks to share.
by Lorraine Jacobs and Tess Reiss