Molly Rippinger

So Far, No Flight From Enderis Park

City workers remain rooted in Enderis Park neighborhood despite elimination of residency rule.

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(Photo by Molly Rippinger)

(Photo by Molly Rippinger)

When Milwaukee’s long-standing residency requirement was lifted, many questioned whether municipal workers living in neighborhoods such as Enderis Park would leave the city, opting for life in the suburbs. Six months after a county judge voided the residency rule, it appears Enderis Park residents are largely staying put.

Scott McGroarty, president of the Enderis Park Board of Directors, said he has not witnessed an exodus of city workers from the community.

“Residents who are with the school system and the police and fire departments are staying here,” explained McGroarty.

McGroarty credits much of Enderis Park’s appeal to the strong sense of community that deeply resonates with residents.

“People don’t want to leave what they have here” said McGroarty, who has lived in the community since 2007. “We are a diverse neighborhood with single-family homes, duplexes, apartment buildings and we’re close to everything.”

Craig Auterman, a former teacher who worked for 21 years for the Milwaukee Public Schools, lives in Enderis Park. Outside his home at 67th Street and Lisbon Avenue, Auterman expressed his fondness for the neighborhood, adding, “It’s a great place to raise a family.” Auterman acknowledged that he would have appreciated having the option to live outside city limits when he originally accepted the position with MPS, but he has no regrets about living in Enderis Park.

Another former MPS teacher and Enderis Park resident, Kathy Badger, explained that the neighborhood was a good option for family-oriented city workers while the residency requirement was in effect. “This is where a lot of the police, firefighters and teachers would live,” said Badger, who has remained in Enderis Park because she and her family did not want to move away from the friendships and vibrant community they found within the neighborhood.

Located on the western fringe of Milwaukee, Enderis Park was the kind of community that caused concern during last year’s debates over the residency requirement. Mayor Tom Barrett worried that without the obligation to live within Milwaukee city limits, municipal workers would leave for communities in surrounding areas, such as those in Waukesha County.

In spring 2013, Barrett predicted that within a decade of the residency requirements being lifted “approximately half of public employees” would move outside city limits.

According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website, fewer than 50 homes are currently for sale in the Enderis Park neighborhood, which has approximately 1,500 residences. In the month of August, only three new single home listings were reported, compared to four new listings in August 2013.

Lori Sommervold, a resident and member of the Enderis Park Board of Directors, said she has not noticed an influx of homes being put on the market.

“I’ve seen no immediate impact,” explained Sommervold. “Teachers, firemen and police are still living here.”

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

5 thoughts on “So Far, No Flight From Enderis Park”

  1. Terry Radtke says:

    This is not true for the Southside where I live several police have left already and there are a lot of “For Sale” signs in the Town of lake neighborhood.

  2. Andy says:

    Key part of this article is “so far.” As a nearby Milwaukee resident I’m very concerned with where our neighborhoods will go long term. Few people want or can just automatically pick up and move right away. But as time goes on, with fewer people looking to move to these neighborhoods, you will see a slow and steady decline in property values. Already Enderis Park, Cooper Park, Washington Heights, and other such neighborhoods have seen a greater decrease in property values vs Wauwatosa, Greenfield, and Greendale.

    This won’t happen over night, but unless something changes in the city, the end result is inevitable.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Andy Agreed. I’d add it isn’t simply that city employees will sell, but that future employees won’t ever buy.

  4. Tosa Resident says:

    It’s an interesting situation. As a nearby neighbor of many of these neighborhoods I remain bullish on the City of Milwaukee. I tend to look at it as “right sizing” of prices in many of these neighborhoods. One could argue that property values were artificially inflated due to the residency requirement, keeping people out instead of the other way around.
    My wife and I purchased an 860 ft. two bedroom cape code in Cooper Park in the early 2000’s for $100,000. We sold it 4 years later and realized a $42,000 gain which we used to purchase our current home in Wauwatosa. I’m no real estate expert but that’s not a normal market to begin with.
    Yes, property values have declined since the real estate bust of 2008 but this has happened through much of the region including some suburban areas as well. Its my belief that if entry level housing is more affordable the city wins in the long run regardless of whether homes are occupied by government workers.
    I am in agreement that the city will continue to lose its government workers but frankly they make up an incredibly low percentage of residents as it is. I’ve seen maps of city workers before residency was lifted. The majority live on the southwest side but are/were spread throughout the entire city with many living in traditionally inner city neighborhoods. Its a myth to begin with that they were only concentrated in certain “desirable” neighborhoods.
    Everything being equal the city continues to struggle with the question of K-12 education and the reality of crime. At least in my circle of friends it was the number one driver of our moves to the suburbs. With voucher and charter school options and open enrollment its becoming less of an issue then it was even 10 years ago.
    This summer with a spate of high profile shootings has really blackened the eye of the city.
    Frankly the city needs to concentrate on making its neighborhoods and business districts more desirable for everyone. Engage the residents and give people a reason to want to live in the city by touting your advantages over long commutes and high housing costs.

  5. David says:

    @Tosa. I do believe that long term lifting residency will hurt Milwaukee. I also think that given the very daunting issues facing Milwaukee, the city and a large group of incredibly dedicated individuals are keeping Milwaukee a great a safe place to live and visit especially compared to other Great Lakes cities. I am from the burbs but choose to live in the city. I really love it. However, for political purposes, there is a real and concerted effort by many on the right to isolate and marginalize Milwaukee. The constant drumbeat of talk radio spews spin and half truths for twelve hours a day, five days a week. Milwaukee is not perfect but it can’t keep getting beat down day after day by people in the region. I have friends in the suburbs that know next to nothing other than what Charlie Sykes and Belling tells them. Many won’t even visit and worse yet they bad mouth Milwaukee to people when traveling – I’ve witnessed this first hand.

    The problems in Milwaukee belong no more to me than they do to someone in Waukesha County. My fear is that little Milwaukee will eventually be overwhelmed,and it will not be good for places like Tosa.

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