Dave Reid

Streets are for People

By - Nov 30th, 2009 09:33 am
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“The right of way doesn’t just belong to cars,” he said. “It belongs to pedestrians and bicyclists as well.”

– U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

For decades the common belief regarding streets has been that they exist simply to serve the automobile, to move cars from A to B.  Certainly, this is a a task of streets, but as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood‘s words show us, this mindset is changing back to what it once was, that streets are a place to serve the needs of people.  This change has started to come about because of groups like the Livable Streets Initiative, and the National Complete Streets Coalition which have been working on the local, state, and national level to point out the error in the common belief and provide solutions.  Again, the error is that “we” forgot that streets are for people.

Locally, the Walker’s Point Association has been working with the City of Milwaukee to bring life back to S. 2nd Street, by rebuilding the street for people.  The plan includes wider sidewalks, that will support green initiatives or local business with expanded sidewalk space for patio seating based on the individual property owners preference.  Additionally, the project has applied for and received funding for new lighting to insure an enjoyable safe night time experience.  The biggest changes are the reduction of automobile travel lanes, and the addition of bike lanes.  These features are designed to create a district that is open and inviting to multiple transportation methods, and encourage more traffic, albeit of people, not just cars.

There are certainly some people that still believe the purpose of a street is to move traffic and serve the automobile, but this mindset doesn’t serve the residents of Milwaukee.  It certainly doesn’t serve the business owners looking for foot traffic, the property owners looking to develop vacant properties, or the customers hoping to, walk the neighborhood, shop in the stores, or visit their local tavern.  Additionally, it doesn’t serve the residents that might choose to bike to destinations along S. 2nd Street or throughout Milwaukee.  As with any project there will be detractors, but in this case this project serves both the desires of the majority of stakeholders on the street, and the larger goals of the city.

Quite simply, complete streets and the S. 2nd Street project are about, more choice, more options, and more access, for people.

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42 thoughts on “Streets are for People”

  1. John says:

    The narrowing down of S. 2nd sreet is well needed. Walkers point is going to see a influx of new business and residents once the 3rd ward is all tapped out. The way S.2nd street looks now is just ghastly. My only reservation to this is that S.2nd street makes the most sense as a street car route. S.1st street has too much traffic on it so S.2nd would be the better choice. Still, i’m all in favor of improving our city.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @John I hear you on the concern regarding if the Streetcar would ever go done S. 2nd Street, that was my one reservation originally. But well that extension is a long long time a way, there are other options (not 1st), and it could still go done 2nd St even with the narrowing.

    But yeah, just watching the development in Milwaukee you can see it is heading that way and this could help pull more development in that direction.

  3. Thank you for this update Dave. A fundamental falsehood contained in opposition to this plan is that it will reduce motor vehicle convenience. This is simply untrue. If you spend anytime on the street, as I do daily, you can clearly see that there is limited vehicle traffic for most times of day, and, even during peak times (start and end of work days) there is rarely traffic in both lanes of any significance. More important than my layperson anecdotal analysis, state traffic codes, and corresponding analysis clearly support the reduction to one auto lane. These are codes that are written almost entirely to support motor vehicular traffic, taking very little else into account. These standards were applied to rigorous and repeated traffic counts conducted by traffic engineers that resulted in the current plan design. So, this is a plan that honors and maintains vehicle traffic. This is a plan that costs less. This is a plan that repairs dramatic surface AND subsurface problems to dramatically improve the roadway. Yet, still there are knee-jerk, factually unfounded assertions in opposition. Its so myopic. This is a plan that let’s everyone win. Even cars.

  4. Jeff Jordan says:

    Dave, I’m going to just add my voice to the choir and agree with your evaluation and concept for 2nd street. Those of us who have been to NY lately have experienced the closing of Times Square to traffic. If they can close one of the busiest intersections in the world and give the space back to the pedestrians, than narrowing a street like 2nd to allow more pedestrian and bike traffic is certainly something we can do.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Jeff Thanks. How is the new Times Square I’d really love to see it? They are really doing some amazing things in NYC right now… thanks to Janette Sadik-Khan

  6. Jeff says:

    I think a lot of folks are opposed to this because all they see on 2nd Street is a rundown strip with industrial buildings, vacant lots and a few bars. Why does an area like that need a “fancy” street? To sell the plan, you’ve got to sell the street’s potential as well.

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @Jeff True, though the opposition is really one or two businesses. Primarily the gas station/taxi business which well is all about the car. Generally speaking the business/property/neighborhood is in support of this, just a last couple of hurdles to go.

  8. Richard says:

    LONG overdue!

    For being the main thoroughfare of Milwaukee’s LGBT district, ironically, there isn’t anything “gay” about it. It’s one of the most depressing areas of town, IMHO.

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Richard I really believe this street has so much potential, and that this might just be the start of the revitalization efforts.. Watching development as we do, it seems to me it has started to march south from the Third Ward, and then across to the Iron Horse with S. 2nd Street sitting poised in the middle. Toss in a possible redevelopment of the Reed Street Yards and things are looking up.

  10. Dave says:

    When this project is complete you’re going to see tons of bikes taking 2nd street. It’s already my preferred street from Downtown to the South Side even though currently it’s like riding on the surface of the moon. The lanes will go a long way toward enhancing the feeling of safety for bikes. I’m looking forward to not having to deal with the tight squeeze under the rail trestle just north of Virginia. Overall I simply can’t wait for the finished product!

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @Dave Agreed. Right now going south is really not very pleasant, and this project will really help to make it better..

  12. mike says:

    Yeah yeah, it all sounds so wonderful doesn’t it? Bike lanes, outdoor seating next to a street (I can’t think of anything more pleasant than having lunch mere feet away from a bus or trolley route), and (drumroll) “green initiatives”! All this with the added bonus of removing more cars and parking off the street, I’m sure the local businesses will be thrilled!

    Where has this succeeded in Milwaukee? “Foot traffic” becomes less relevant for retail shops every year. Not only do people prefer to drive (especially when buying *stuff* that they dont want to carry around) but more people every year are shopping online. Look at the Bay View KK corridor. What’s the absolute #1 complaint from every business owner?? Anyone?? Lack of PARKING! And just wait until the snow starts piling up on the curbs.

    Unlike South 2nd St, there are actually a lot more people living within walking distance of KK in Bay View, yet retail and restaurants continue to fail and store fronts remain vacant. They have the bike lanes, they have the crosswalks, they have the narrow street, the cutesy storefronts, oh its very romantic and nostalgic. But lets wake up to reality, this isn’t 1920, everyone has cars. Particularly everyone who’s going to be spending the kind of money these upscale retail and restaurants and boutiques demand. And they’re not going to walk a mile carrying 10 bags in the snow on KK doing their xmas shopping and then catch the bus home.

    I’m not saying they should tear down a few abandoned warehouses on 2nd and build a super wal-mart with a huge parking lot, though it would be wildly successful (and it seems to me getting all your shopping done in one place is much “greener” and efficient) . And I understand your longing for the old streets of Milwaukee, it is visually very pleasant, and those old photographs of busy sidewalks and overflowing streetcars and cute storefronts are very romantic. I get it.

    But that was a different time. If you build it, they won’t just come because its cute. There are reasons these business model failed. If you want these areas to succeed, you need to be more creative than adding bike lanes.

  13. Dave Reid says:

    @mike

    “All this with the added bonus of removing more cars and parking off the street”

    This plan does neither of these, parking should remain essentially the same, and the street currently has so much more capacity than it is currently using.

    “I can’t think of anything more pleasant than having lunch mere feet away from a bus or trolley route” Never had lunch at County Clare?

    “Where has this succeeded in Milwaukee?”

    Ummm Brady St., Milwaukee St., Jefferson St. Are narrow or have been narrowed and all are some of most vibrant streets in the city.

    Yes density might be an issue on S. 2nd Street, but development in Milwaukee is marching in that direction, and this would make S. 2nd Street more likely to see redevelopment.

    “If you want these areas to succeed, you need to be more creative than adding bike lanes.”

    Certainly, this is just a start. The Reed Street Yards project can play an important, synergetic role here, and this project has already sparked discussion of redevelopment efforts, both private and public.

    PS It is the business and property owners (with an extreme minority in opposition) who have pushed for this plan.

  14. mike says:

    @dave

    > County Clare

    Come on, man. You’re comparing the traffic Astor St with South 2nd? Get real. South 2nd is not a residential area in the least bit. And you think the success of County Clare is hinged on their fabulous outdoor seating?

    Can you describe anything without using “vibrant”? OK, Brady St is “vibrant”. What does that even mean? Are the businesses economically viable? There’s a long history of shopping in that area, and again, its much more dense residential with some of the *most expensive condos* in the city (people with money). But even there that’s just barely enough to keep a restaurant in business. Umm, no offense to near south siders, but they ain’t living in penthouses on the lake.

    Places like 2nd St need outsiders to stay in business. People who live outside the city limit their business on the East Side because of the hassles involved in getting there and parking. Once the snow starts piling up, they avoid it completely as 2 lane roads become 1 lane and theres no parking anywhere. Trust me, 3 blocks west, La Perla, La Fuente, and Botanas don’t want any bike lanes or trolleys. Those places are successful because suburbanites can drive and park there.

    > Yes density might be an issue on S. 2nd Street, but development in Milwaukee is marching in that direction, and this would make S. 2nd Street more likely to see redevelopment.

    Is it? How many bald spots are there all over the city where the next great development was going to take place? There’s a 10block scar of empty lots from the Pabst Brewery to the east. Can we fill that up first? Then an empty Grand Avenue. Then you got totally screwed up areas like the Menominee Valley, (a supposedly *planned* redevelopment?) is it entertainment (Miller Park, Casino, Harley Museum, and a football/soccer stadium, Domes, all nowhere near each other btw) or is it industrial (a freakin huge coal power plant, huge rail yards, a DPW garage, Falk, bulk oil tanks, and numerous other industrial property and vacant lots)? All with the most confusing and convoluted freeway access. And to top it off, redeveloping the menom river front with a bike trail that doesn’t connect with any of the attractions! Sorry if I’m not overly confident in the central planners at City Hall!

    Should I go on? The Post Office on St Paul is going to be torn down soon. Perfect place for…. more empty, indistinguishable, high rise condos? Nope, times of easy money are gone, that lot will probably just be a pile of gravel for the next 15 years, next to the wonderful new intermodal station. Just down the street you got the Milw Public Market which has been losing tenants even before the economy crashed. You got empty lots and more empty warehouses all around the rivers there than could possibly ever be developed for 50yrs. Oh yeah, and the shining jewel of Bradley Tech in the middle, no doubt a huge plus for any business district to be located next to. Just ask the businesses on KK how much they enjoy the foot traffic from Bay View High.

    And then you tell me we need to spend MORE money to try to force MORE fantasy developments farther away from downtown? Can we just concentrate in one area please? And how about instead of being so hung up on attracting tiny shops and mixed use developments which create very few low low paying retail jobs, we actually use an area like South 2nd to attract some large businesses that employ hundreds of people, that can make use of the inherent advantages of the area like the rail and harbor access, like some manufacturing, tool shops? Instead of subsidizing more shady condo developers. God forbid we encourage someone to locate their business and create some jobs in this city!

  15. Jesse Hagen says:

    So mike, you’re seem to be in the middle of an incoherent rant. Let’s get back to 2nd street…

    Anyway, how will narrowing the street hurt the area?

  16. mike says:

    @jesse

    It takes away a lane of traffic. You can keep saying that won’t have any impact, yet supposedly this is gonna make 2nd a busier and more attractive place, so if it doesn’t have an immediate impact, it will eventually. This, for a bike lane that will serve a minute fraction of people that are served by a traffic lane.

    If you re-read my rant, you’d notice that when it snows in Milwaukee, the streets are narrowed further, essentially turning 2 lane streets with parking on both sides into 1 lane streets with half as much parking and ice mountains to climb to get from your car to the sidewalk.

    Explain to me how downsizing a street with supposed over capacity creates anything valuable? (btw it was under capacity for the last year as MMSD had the whole thing torn up for deep tunnel work) There are so many places in Milwaukee, even NEARBY, that are better suited for development yet they remain empty.

  17. mike says:

    A rant, certainly. What was so incoherent about it?

    I find words like “vibrant” and “synergistic” to be incoherent and meaningless.

  18. Jesse Hagen says:

    @mike: The onus is on you to prove that 4 traffic lanes are needed. How would traffic flow be improved by keeping all 4, would it just allow people to speed past anyone driving the posted speed limit?

    How does that benefit the neighborhood, businesses, or city?

    Also, your tidbit about snow is especially true for streets like South 2nd or MLK. They are streets that the city squeezed 4 traffic lanes in, when the road isn’t wide enough. One small snowstorm narrows them to one lane in each direction anyway, why pay extra for an unusable lane that deadens the street?

    -Narrowing the road makes it more pedestrian friendly, you don’t have to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get to the other side, it will be 2.

    -Adding bike lanes encourages people to bike, so when there is high demand for parking, less people are looking for a spot.

    -Widened sidewalks with street trees improve desirability (translation: trees = higher property values)
    http://www.naturewithin.info/Policy/Hedonics_Citations.pdf

    -It doesn’t matter if there are other areas nearby to get redeveloped first. This reconstruction of the street will set the tone for South 2nd street for decades. This saves money in the short-term and improves the area in the long-term.

    -Your rant is incoherent because of the tangental nature of most of it and the uninformed rhetoric of the rest.

  19. Dave Reid says:

    @mike Ummmmmmm a street with only 1 travel lane in each direction that is busy (avoiding vibrant), and has had long term businesses???? How about the one you just pointed to 5th St with La Perla, and La Fuente. It doesn’t have 4 travel lanes it has 2. Now it is narrowed with angled parking but it has 2 travel lanes.

    My point about County Clare was that buses go right by regularly and people enjoy sitting out on their patio just fine.

    As far the Park East, the city can not simply wave a wand and say put all development here, it will slowly fill in but it will take years (I’ll point out another part of the Park East freeway has long since been filled in – Pick N Save and townhomes going east).

    As far as the Valley you might want to take a closer look, and you might want to stop in the Public Market again as well, it is far from vacant.

  20. Dave Reid says:

    @mike Further, the bike lanes aren’t replacing the travel lanes, bike lanes could fit today. The sidewalk, essentially is.

  21. mike says:

    @jesse

    Onus on me?? You’re the ones advocating spending public money! What do I need to prove about South 2nd street beyond that its a former industrial zone with a biker bar and a few gay bars. Planting trees and adding bike lanes isn’t going to turn it into Farwell Ave in 100yrs.

  22. mike says:

    @dave

    > My point about County Clare was that buses go right by regularly and people enjoy sitting out on their patio just fine.

    My point is compare the neighborhood and traffic on Astor with 2nd.

    > Ummmmmmm a street with only 1 travel lane in each direction that is busy (avoiding vibrant), and has had long term businesses???? How about the one you just pointed to 5th St with La Perla, and La Fuente. It doesn’t have 4 travel lanes it has 2. Now it is narrowed with angled parking but it has 2 travel lanes.

    5th st is not busy or vibrant. It’s essentially a parking lot for Perla, Fuente, and Botanas. Those restaurants also own more sqft of real estate for private parking lots that for their actual buildings, plus they fill the angle parking every Fri and Sat night. They would have a shit fit if any of that street parking was reduced. Their customers are not riding their bikes or the bus. Somehow they are profitable without trees planted in the sidewalk or any foot traffic, I don’t know how they do it.

    > As far the Park East, the city can not simply wave a wand and say put all development here

    Thank you, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    So can we stop waving these million dollar wands all over different parts of the city? Perhaps the success of businesses in the city has a lot more to do with the business owners than with bike lanes and wider sidewalks?

    > it will slowly fill in but it will take years

    And what reason should anyone believe that? Because of the extensive landscaping in the medians? It’s been a total embarrassment for nearly 7 years. And I’m not someone that thought the freeway was particularly useful, but why tear it down with nothing lined up to replace it?

    No, the Public “Market” isn’t vacant yet. It also isn’t a market. I admit I haven’t been there since El Ray left. Now it’s basically a lunch food court. Nothing wrong with that, not what the central planners had in mind though. It also has… plenty of easily accessible free off-street parking.

  23. Dave Reid says:

    @mike “My point is compare the neighborhood and traffic on Astor with 2nd.” Ok how about people sitting out at HI-Hat, Joe Cats or the zillion other places on Brady all sorts of traffic goes through there, people seem to like it..

    “5th st is not busy or vibrant.” You argue it isn’t busy but then talk about how every spot is filled on Friday and Saturday… Seems pretty busy to me. I’d also point out that La Fuente removed a parking lot a couple of years ago, for an outside patio.. They certainly do have a lot of parking but the point about 5th Street is it has one travel lane in each direction, and they do just fine. Finally, no one is talking about removing parking from S. 2nd Street.

    “So can we stop waving these million dollar wands all over different parts of the city?” This money will be spent, whether or not they narrow the street. Either way, as the street is due for a reconstruct.

    “And what reason should anyone believe that?” Because it has happened in other cities, and in fact has already has happened in Milwaukee, in the path of the Park East in fact.

    “And I’m not someone that thought the freeway was particularly useful, but why tear it down with nothing lined up to replace it?”

    Because opportunities to do something like this don’t come around very often.

    “Now it’s basically a lunch food court.” Having visited both Pike’s Market in Seattle, and the Reading Market in Philly, it is easy to see that Public Market’s that work have plenty of prepared food.

  24. KS says:

    @Mike

    What’s your alternative for improving the area? The fact is the American economy has changed dramatically over the past few decades. It’s highly unlikely that a big manufacturing company requiring high capacity physical infrastructure would want to set up shop in the area anytime in the near future.

    It’s far more likely that residential, retail, and service uses will come to the area due to its urban setting, building stock, and proximity to downtown. This will be more than small, quirky shops and condos. A quick check of the 3rd Ward website, for example, shows the presence of companies in engineering, finance, advertising, legal services, etc. While planting trees and adding bike lanes alone won’t transform the area, it’s a good step towards attracting the private investment that will. This seems a much better use of public money than maintaining a street setup that’s been in place for years and done little to attract investment.

  25. mike says:

    > “5th st is not busy or vibrant.” You argue it isn’t busy but then talk about how every spot is filled on Friday and Saturday… Seems pretty busy to me.

    Yes, it’s a vibrant parking lot. I was assuming you’re not advocating improving business districts by adding more parking spots.

    > What’s your alternative for improving the area? The fact is the American economy has changed dramatically over the past few decades.

    Yes, the economy has changed. The world has changed. However the US is still the leading manufacturer in the world, though will lose that spot to China in the next couple years. We still do make stuff in this country, even in WI, though pretty much everything in Milwaukee has been driven out as the people left to escape crime and crap schools and the taxes went up.

    > It’s highly unlikely that a big manufacturing company requiring high capacity physical infrastructure would want to set up shop in the area anytime in the near future.

    I wouldn’t argue with that. The City has done nothing to encourage it, and has the snobby attitude of picking and choosing the businesses it blesses the wonderful honor of being in the city. I guess they’re just interested in more law firms and advertising agencies, while they bitch about the massive blue collar unemployment all over the city. The surrounding suburbs (OC, Franklin, Waukesha, Greendale) all have large light industrial parks that employ medium to low skilled labor, but decent paying jobs with insurance.

    Oshkosh Trucks (booming business), Manitowoc Cranes, Miller Brewing, Mercury Marine, (until recently) massive GM plant in Janesville, Harley-Davidson (which is so close to leaving behind just a token office), Quad Graphics (several WI locations with hundreds of employees), AO Smith (shell of what it used to be), Bucyrus, Spancrete, Case, that’s what I can come up off the top of my head. We still manufacture in WI. Why not in Milwaukee? There’s decent freeway access, definite harbor and rail access. There’s no reason any of those companies or others couldn’t be located in the empty lots on and around 2nd and the harbor. They’d bring jobs and tax revenue.

    VW is opening a brand new huge plant in Tennessee next year. Why wasn’t Milwaukee considered? Did Doyle or Barrett even make an effort? Toyota has a huge plant down in TN or KY too. BMW has a plant in SC. Why are these companies never considering Milwaukee? John Deere and Caterpillar have huge plants in IA and IL. Don’t tell me its because they only hire uneducated southern hicks, I think we have our fair share of unemployed unskilled labor that would do fine with a line job.

    So what’s my alternative for 2nd st? Get blue collar jobs back in the city. Cut taxes. Turn the Menom Valley and the Harbor into modern manufacturing and shipping centers. Ship/Truck/Rail terminals. Use the strengths of our location and labor base. Rail shipping is actually increasing in the US as its cheaper by mile than trucking. Breweries. Food processors. Heavy machinery. Ship/boat construction. Construction equip. Auto parts. What else are you going to put across the river from a sewage plant and a salt pile anyway? These businesses would bring people to the state and city and generate tax revenue. Concentrate the entertainment and condos and restaurants in the 3rd ward and downtown and east side where they belong. I’m not against high tech or white collar jobs by any means, but lets be real here, Milwaukee has an above average unemployment of low skilled labor and high poverty. That will always be a drag on the city unless you get them jobs.

  26. Dave Reid says:

    @mike You’re avoiding the point on 5th Street. It has one travel lane in each direction, and business seems to do just fine. Yes they have a lot of parking but again the S. 2nd Street plan doesn’t remove any parking.

    “Turn the Menom Valley and the Harbor into modern manufacturing and shipping centers.” Again take a visit to the Valley, it is a modern manufacturing center.

    “I wouldn’t argue with that. The City has done nothing to encourage it,” Not true. Projects like the Valley and now Tower are directly aimed at manufacturing jobs. The fact is attracting industry to brownfield sites, is significantly more difficult than greenfield sites.

    Finally, S. 2nd Street isn’t setup for large manufacturing sites, actually looking at most of the building stock it is setup for a neighborhood main street.

  27. mike says:

    The Valley has a damn casino in the middle of it, motorcycle museum on one end, and a baseball stadium on the other! With a bike path between it all! Talk about isolating some of the city’s biggest attractions in a swamp!

    > You’re avoiding the point on 5th Street. It has one travel lane in each direction, and business seems to do just fine.

    What am I avoiding? How many way do I need to explain to you that the number of traffic lanes on 5th st has nothing to do with the success of those restaurants? Go ask Jamie Gonzales why he located his restaurants on 5th and National. He’s not going to say anything about the vibrant 5th st foot traffic or pedestrian friendly road, because those things aren’t there. What is there is cheap real estate, a local workforce he was familiar with, decent freeway access, and plenty of parking. Good freakin god, how dense are you? National Ave has 4 lanes with heavy vehicle traffic, it doesn’t seem to be devoid of business. My whole point is all these stupid little “development” projects do next to nothing. Then policies like requiring union scale labor for construction (as in Park East) PREVENT those areas from being developed. Lower taxes, get the City Hall busy bodies out of the way, and maybe you’d see something get done instead of micromanaging every city block for how many bike lanes and trees you want.

    > Finally, S. 2nd Street isn’t setup for large manufacturing sites, actually looking at most of the building stock it is setup for a neighborhood main street.

    Holy crap, are we talking about the same city? You’ve got MMSD at the north end surrounded by a bunch of abandon or lightly used warehouses, then a handful of bars and run down multi-family duplexes, more warehouses, and oh, did you forget that gigantic south side landmark that occupies 6 blocks?, more rental properties and dead ends at a boatyard. Yeah, it’s a really a neighborhood main street, practically Newberry Blvd!

  28. Dave Reid says:

    @mike

    “How many way do I need to explain to you that the number of traffic lanes on 5th st has nothing to do with the success of those restaurants?” Fine, but it certainly isn’t hurt their business.

    ” instead of micromanaging every city block for how many bike lanes and trees you want.” Again it was the property and business owners that came to the city to do this project, hardly micromanaging, actually responding to the community.

    “Yeah, it’s a really a neighborhood main street, practically Newberry Blvd!”

    Ummm Newberry is not a neighborhood main street. A main street has retail, and mixed-use properties. Further this project again would run from National north, so it doesn’t get to Rockwell and such. Though interestingly enough the businesses just South of National were at the meetings requesting to be a part of this plan as well!

  29. John says:

    @ Mike Pretty much all you are saying has been said before. People have looked into it, and the stuff is hard to implement. First off, when it comes to any manufacturing job getting them to set up shop in the Northern U.S (let alone) Milwaukee is really hard. I also find it hilarious that you blame Doyle and Barret for lack of trying to bring car manufacturers here when it was Doyle that got the GM palnt here and was willing to give them more money to stay (which they didn’t). Wasn’t Mayor Barret influential in getting Republic Airways here? Don’t go around blaming democrats for every little conceived problem mike. I think i’d be wise for Milwaukee to invest in other industries (like water technology) instead of one that will be all but gone (manufacturing).

    The Park East corridor is an embarrassment. I don’t think anyone will disagree with you on that. But you can go ahead and blame the county not the city for that one since they control the plots there. Scott Walker (the weasel that he is) has done next to nothing to try to get business over there, (since it would actually benefit the city, something he is strictly opposed to) plus the county implements the stupid tactic of selling whole blocks instead of smaller plots in that corridor. I’d bet that hotel Palomar would have been build if it wasn’t as huge as planned to be.

    As for the S.2nd street redevelopment goes, the local businesses (minus the gas station/taxi operation) want it to happen. As do many of the residents. I you pay close attention to developing trends, you’d know that once the 3rd ward is tapped out, the next logical place for many residents and businesses to go would be the 5th ward/Walkers point because of its proximity to the river, the intermdal station, downtown, interstate, 3rd ward, lake front, restaurants, nightlife, and the list goes on and on. Mike, it’s called CITY planning, and when you plan something, you plan for the realistic future and not some fantasy where Milwaukee becomes some manufacturing giant again.

    And you seem to have something towards smart city planning and bikes and general. Seriously guy, get a grip. Last time I checked downtown Milwaukee has like a million parking structures, which is funny because according to you, lots of parking should equal lots of shopping. Yet, some how Milwaukees downtown shopping scene is a great travesty with its almost barren landscape. Oh, and please save the common (there is crime downtown) retort. We have all heard it, yet no one really buys it.

    Just sign off all your future rants with “this is how a Republican would things” i’d save many of the people who frequent this site and actually want to see Milwaukee better itself a lot of time.

  30. mike says:

    Getting Republic Airways here? They bought Midwest. The fact that our airport is above average quality, under capacity, and close to Chicago is what makes it a good hub. Considering Midwest offices are in Oak Creek, I doubt Barrett had anything to do with anything.

    Right, Park East is Scott Walker’s fault. But Doyle got GM here (? that plant has been in Janesville for 50years) and Barrett saved Midwest. I don’t blame anyone for losing GM here, that plant was doomed a long time ago.

    I have no problem with investing in water technologies. In fact one of the few smart things I’ve heard Barrett say is that he wanted to reduce water meter rates for business locating in the city as we have plenty of water capacity. I think that’s a great idea. Is it just an idea, or will he execute it? Admit it, the guy became mayor as a consolation prize for losing the dem gov primary. I don’t think he has much interest in leading this city.

    No, there really isn’t much crime downtown at all. It’s just a lot more convenient to go to a suburban mall or strip like 76th st or hwy 100 or Bluemound to do your shopping. People want to shop big box. You have a limited market of people that want (or can afford) to shop at all these little boutique places. That’s why all these mixed use developments struggle. This is a small urban area that can’t sustain all these little cafes and dress shops and theatres.

    I don’t have a problem with bikes. I ride my bike for fun, on streets and trails. I don’t commute on it, like 99.9% of people its completely impractical for me to do so. I simply object to this notion that painting bike lanes everywhere contributes anything. Reconfiguring these streets to accommodate such a tiny tiny group of people is stupid. And things like a bike lane on the Hoan are insane, yet these ideas just won’t die.

    >not some fantasy where Milwaukee becomes some manufacturing giant again.

    Again why is manufacturing growing in other parts of the country? What are we doing wrong up here, that TN and KY are doing right? What are you going to have Milwaukee’s unemployed 30% of black males do? Water research? Biotechnology? Software developers?

    > Just sign off all your future rants with “this is how a Republican would things” i’d save many of the people who frequent this site and actually want to see Milwaukee better itself a lot of time.

    It’s that bullshit elitist attitude I have a problem with. I live in Milwaukee. I grew up here and I actually voluntarily bought a house 2 years ago in the city because I *wanted* to live here. And no, it’s not because I need residency for a job. I don’t like the bland suburbs. I wanted a house and neighborhood with character. I want Milwaukee to succeed as much as all of you do, yet everything I say is written off as anti-Milwaukee rants. Well it has been the socialists and democrats that have been running this city for the last 100 years (and every other rust belt city), so you can hardly blame the evil conservatives for Milwaukee’s problems. And every year I watch my property taxes go up, more job loses, crumbling infrastructure, declining schools, and I talk to my friends in other states and I wonder how much longer I’m gonna stay here and put up with it.

    Norquist was your ultimate urban planner nerd, and he packed up and left town and left the city with a lawsuit. Maybe it’s time to start listening to some people outside your ivory tower.

  31. MilwaukeeD says:

    “Again why is manufacturing growing in other parts of the country? What are we doing wrong up here, that TN and KY are doing right?”

    Mike, TN, KY and many other southern states have attracted those large manufacturers with massive subsidies. Usually to the tune of $50-150k per job. I’m not saying whether that is right or wrong, I think there are good points to be made on both sides. But you asked what they are doing and that’s what they are doing.

    Some could argue that those subsidies more than pay themselves off in the long run, based on property and income taxes paid on the new factory and by employees, as well as the lower level of social services required due to higher unemployment.

    Others could argue that the money be spent on any number of other things that could enhance the quality of life of an area: schools, lower taxes, parks, roads, transit, etc.

  32. MilwaukeeD says:

    correction, I meant higher EMployment

  33. MilwaukeeD says:

    and since it’s not good to post facts on the internet without backup, here is a link to an article about TN’s VW plant: http://timesfreepress.com/news/2008/jul/24/chattanooga-vw-incentives-largest-state/?print

    They are offering $500m in incentives for 2,000 jobs. That comes out to $250,000/job.

    The article also refers to subsidies that Alabama and Georgia have used to attract manufacturers.

  34. mike says:

    > Others could argue that the money be spent on any number of other things that could enhance the quality of life of an area: schools, lower taxes, parks, roads, transit, etc.

    Well our taxes only go up here. The schools are a big reason for that, and they certainly don’t need any more money. No one is going to move to Milwaukee for the parks or the roads.

    People relocate (or stay) for jobs. I’m all for reasonable subsidies to create real jobs. It beats the hell out of TIF for apartment buildings. And making some progress on the massive black male unemployment in Milwaukee would be a good first step in fixing the schools (ie, fixing the families).

    $50k per job for 500 jobs is $25 million. That’s a lot. But adding 500 jobs, to say the Tower site would be a big deal. It makes more sense than spending double ($54 million) to merely *establish* a downtown rail system to serve no one.

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/41230152.html

    Interesting about the VW plant. VW is gonna spend $1 billion to build the thing for starters. That’s a big deal, and a big commitment.

  35. Dave Reid says:

    @mike “I grew up here and I actually voluntarily bought a house 2 years ago in the city because I *wanted* to live here. And no, it’s not because I need residency for a job. I don’t like the bland suburbs. I wanted a house and neighborhood with character.”

    A neighborhood with character, huh sure sounds like you moved to the city for reasons other than taxes, possibly quality of life?

    As far as MPS, that is a complete separate budget from than the on the City has control over, not Barrett’s attempt to get control.

    So I’m curious the two largest portions of the cities budget, that are actually on the property taxes, are police and fire, what should they cut? DPW? They have been cutting DPW for years, note the beat up streets. In fact every department, except elections, was cut this year. I appreciate the concept of “cut taxes” but across the board generalizations are not solutions.

  36. mike says:

    I love the bungalows and the interior woodwork. You can’t build that anymore. Unfortunately, like so many others, I’ll be moving out of the city if I eventually have kids unless there’s a radical improvement to MPS or huge expansion to choice. It’s sad, it’s why so many have left and will never come back.

    I can only assume what your career is, but mine is one where I can afford a 20mi one way commute for my job, and I’d be able to get another job if my company went out of business, and I could find work in almost any city in the country. I’m by no means wealthy, but people like you and I and those who earn even more can pick and choose where we want to live for other reasons besides taxes. We are not the majority of residents of the City. Most who live here have limited choices. They are here for a specific job (which if they lost, they might leave the city) or they live here because its cheap. Many are here living off social services.

    Don’t give me the crap that the budget is cut to the bone. You know as well as I do the reason cities all over the country are blowing their budgets: they have required contributions to make to the lavish pension funds that had to be drastically increased this year as the funds lost half their value in the market crash. The fire crews need to be cut (I’ll give Barrett credit for sticking with that). The labor unions need to be busted. These pensions need to be eliminated for new employees (try to find a private sector job today that even has a pension program anymore). And staff needs to be cut. Every private business makes these decisions every year, but the City just wants more. You’re fooling yourself if you think your tax money is being spent responsibly here. My out of state friends and relatives are shocked at the property taxes we pay.

    And if DPW needs some more suggestions for cuts, how about the ridiculous brick planters that were installed all over the city this year? It’s a slap in the face every day I drive to work while my salary is frozen, thousands of others are laid off or have their hours cut, and we get to pay a new wheel tax and continue hitting potholes everywhere. And DPW is paying people to plant flowers.

  37. John says:

    @Mike My ivory tower? Ha, I wish! I just want to see the city of Milwaukee move forward and better itself. The mayors of Milwaukee past didn’t all have the forsite to know not to put all their eggs in one basket (manufacturing), and it a lapse that is still costing this city. But what I don’t get is why you want to rag on Barret so much? Are republicans that afraid that he may become mayor? What exactly has he done wrong? As far as I can tell he has very high apporval ratings and has lead the city admirable. And on that note, notice how you never seem to mention Scott Walker in a negative light.
    Park East wasn’t his making but why won’t you admit that he is ultra against anything Milwaukee.

    Get back on topic, S.2nd st will be redeveloped. The residents of the community want it to happen, so just let it be.

  38. mike says:

    > S.2nd st will be redeveloped. The residents of the community want it to happen, so just let it be.

    Ah yes, just let it be stupid tax payer. Don’t you understand that we know better than you? Stop talking about how superficial our plans are and pointing out all the other mistakes and white elephants we’ve created across the city.

    > But what I don’t get is why you want to rag on Barret so much?

    He’s not much of a leader or advocate of the city. Has everyone forgotten how he sorta just became mayor? He entered the race after losing the gov, making a 3-way race between a guy so incompetent he didn’t get his name on the ballot and a corrupt long time insider.

    > Are republicans that afraid that he may become mayor?

    Gov? Not afraid at all. Considering how stronger Dem candidates (Kind, Falk) don’t even want to run, I think they all know the GOP will win the gov next year. Even Barrett doesn’t want to run, he had to be heavily pressured by the prez. He doesn’t want to move his family to Madison. He doesn’t want the stress and hours and travel that being gov will require. He’s supported Doyle all these years and has no issues to run on. We’ll see how enthusiastic he is when/if he ever starts campaigning.

    > notice how you never seem to mention Scott Walker in a negative light.

    Yes, Scott Walker is the *County* Executive. He doesn’t have much to do with anything we’re talking about, especially since he doesn’t get anything done because the board overrides him on almost everything. It’s funny how the liberals blame him for cuts, since his budget has been overridden by the board every single year that he’s been exec, and county taxes have continued to go up every year.

    > Park East wasn’t his making but why won’t you admit that he is ultra against anything Milwaukee.

    Scott Walker is the *County* Executive. He represents the whole county. Half of which is NOT the city of Milwaukee (though even he got good support in the City, I guess 46% of Milwaukee residents in 2008 are also “ultra against” Milwaukee) . Why don’t you just admit you don’t like him because he disagrees with you? Barrett and Doyle don’t do the things I want them to do, does that mean they are ultra against Milwaukee and ultra against Wisconsin?

  39. MilwaukeeD says:

    Mike, what generally happens with these subsidies is that the company just plays each state or region against each other to find the best deal (subsidy). Not that there’s anything wrong with that persay, that’s what a company should do for its investors or shareholders.

    You asked why Doyle didn’t go after the VW plant. I would guess that the state did, and they probably offered several hundred million (like they offered to GM), but were outbid by states like TN that were willing to give them $500m. Should they have matched the $500m? That’s a worthwhile debate. Wisconsin outbid Oklahoma on the Mercury Marine thing. That’s just part of the game, you win some, you lose some. The companies, however, always win because they have what every politician and region wants: jobs.

    It’s not like the City and State aren’t engaging in this activity at all. You mentioned spending $25m at the Tower site would be a big deal. Well…they City recently approved spending $30m at the Tower site to make it attractive for companies to open shop there. Should more be spent? Possibly. But I’m sure that you realize that the $30m spent there, or the $500m spent in TN, is usually done through borrowing money, so future generations pay it back, with interest. While it probably needs to be done to attract jobs in some cases, it’s not a clear cut right or wrong answer every time.

  40. KS says:

    @Mike.

    Ok. Aside from changing government policy on tax, labour, and education at the city, state, and federal levels, how do you propose spending a given sum of money on 2nd Street (which must be spent anyway given its poor condition) to best benefit the area?

  41. Over the past two days nearly 100 residents and business owners (representing hundreds more not in attendance) who live on and near S. 2nd Street have met to engage in public discourse about the proposed plans for S. 2nd Street. These meetings have been the culmination of many, many prior meetings from which the plans were developed. We bring commercial, residential, industrial, planning, economic, and politic interests, ideas and perspectives to the debate. We live here. We work here. We invest here. We are all generally reasonable, engaged citizens with fairly informed points of view. We are liberal, conservative and in between. We come from all walks of life. We have struggled with tough choices and made difficult compromises. Polling shows that somewhere between 80% -90% of us now support the proposed plan, for a multitude of diverse reasons. Take whatever position you will, but as members of this neighborhood, we have taken our responsibilities as citizens seriously and have held representatives of our government accountable to us. While I don’t personally love every piece of the plan, I am proud of the outcome and the process that created it. This is what democracy looks like. Tomorrow the DPW committee makes a final decision on the proposed reconstruction and then the recommendation advances to the Common Council later this month to be made official. I, for one, can’t wait to see this community vision realized.

  42. I am pleased to report that the DPW Committee approved the S. 2nd Street Plan with a vote of 4 -1 in favor. Next up, the Common Council. Assuming approval, the project is scheduled to commence in mid-July and be completed by December, 2010. Very very exciting indeed. Thanks to all those who advocated along the way.

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