September 2002

“I love this neighborhood!” This exclamation is commonly overheard in Riverwest. Most recently it was heard in the wake of a young man, clad only in bikini briefs and a mink jacket, being pulled on a skateboard by his dog down Bremen St. on Sunday, Aug. 11. Thanks for the street theater!

CDC Hearings

The Riverwest neighborhood had a strong showing at the Public Hearing on the Community Block Grant Administration 2003 Proposed Funding Plan held July 25. Representatives from Riverwest Currents, Riverwest Co-op, Riverwest Neighborhood Association (RNA), and area residents presented their views to members of the Community Development Committee of the Milwaukee Common Council. Despite their and others’ objections to the proposal, the Common Council adopted a proposal that allocates a mere $20,352 per neighborhood for community organizing. This will have serious implications for Riverwest, jeopardizing the continuation of technical support for neighborhood organizations and block clubs, as well as green space, crime prevention and strategic planning projects. The YMCA Community Development Corporation, with offices at 604 E. Center St., is primarily funded by Community Development Block Grants.

Wondering what’s happening with Kilbourn Park? Here’s the latest news, according to Tom Schneider, Executive Director of COA Youth & Family Centers. The Common Council has approved a resolution to transfer the land between the top of the bluff and Commerce St. to the city Redevelopment Authority (RACM). They are authorized to accept the land and to negotiate a long-term lease with COA and neighborhood groups. That lease is in the process of being drafted now, and reviewed by the city attorney. They hope to have the process completed by mid-October. The city hopes to have landscaping of the slope finished by next spring, but no official timetable has been made public.

Real estate transactions provide a good opportunity to communicate with new neighborhood residents. It’s the law in Wisconsin that an offer to purchase a home be accompanied by a notice of how to access information about released sex offenders in your neighborhood. Resident Eric Peterson reports that his new lease was delivered with an attached sheet detailing community values. Jan Christensen and Devon Witchell, who works for Worth Realty, are discussing a neighborhood data sheet to be included with information given to prospective home buyers in Riverwest. If you work in real estate or own rental property in Riverwest and are interested in getting involved with this project, contact Jan Christensen, 263-1380.

Neighbors in the 2800 block alley between Booth and Holton banded together to help put out a car fire and save a garage on August 15. When the car, parked behind a garage, caught on fire, neighbors came to the rescue with three fire extinguishers, which were completely emptied by the time the fire department arrived and finished the job. Firefighters are reported as saying that if the neighbors had not acted so quickly, damage to the garage would have been substantially greater. Great job!

Progress is reported on the Riverwest Currency project. One person has expressed an interest in directing the project, and a faculty member of the UWM architecture and urban planning department has offered help and support. One business has expressed an interest in accepting Riverwest Hours. The Hometown Money Starter Kit has been ordered from Paul Glover, who was instrumental in starting Ithaca Hours in Ithaca, New York. First project proposed in the creation of an information packet for Riverwest businesses, explaining how Riverwest Hours could be incorporated into neighborhood commerce. Watch the Currents for further developments.

Another car fire, which started in the engine compartment of a vehicle stopped at the northbound stop sign at the corner of Booth and Center, was extinguished by Jan Christensen, Community Development Specialist with the YMCA-CDC. The office is located at 604 E. Center, and she grabbed the office fire extinguisher to douse the flames several minutes before the fire truck arrived. Putting your Community Development Block Grant resources to work for you.

According to the Aug. 22 Business Section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the T-3 Group, Ltd., may be shutting down, citing “irregularities with financial and operational matters.” The design and construction firm has been the contractor for River Homes Condominiums, under construction on Commerce St., on the southern edge of Riverwest along the Milwaukee River. Construction of Phase 2 of the River Homes development stopped in June after a fire caused extensive damage. Todd Robert Murphy, spokesman for the developer, River Homes LLC, stated that work on rebuilding the units is scheduled to begin in September, but it is unlikely that T-3 will remain on the project. T-3 is owned by Gary McHugh, who bought the company last year from founder Scott Sampson.

The young folks who rode down Booth and Center Streets on a hot August afternoon seemed to be having a lot of fun and certainly raised a lot of spirits with their free cold treats. Their bicycle-driven vending center featured a cooler filled with frozen tofu goodies and a big umbrella painted with the words “Anarchist Ice Cream.” Very cool! Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 8 – September 2002