Concerns Filled the Open House for Municipal Parking Lot Redevelopment
Residents had a chance to examine the municipal parking lot concepts as well as insert their input into the future of Greendale. Many expressed concern over the amount of parking and the apartment buildings in the concepts.
By 6:15 p.m. there was already a crowd in the room and a line out the door, and by 6:45 p.m. there was no available parking close by. Ironically, parking is one of the issues that drew many people to the open house at the Greendale Safety Center.
Greendale residents were encouraged to give feedback on five concept drawings that include apartment buildings for the redevelopment of the municipal parking lot on Parking Street at Wednesday's open house.
Board of Trustees member, Carl Genz said this was the biggest meeting turnout he’s ever seen. This was the second open house held for the redevelopment concepts.
Resident Marsha Bialk only found out about these concepts a few days before the open house and was frustrated that there had not been better communication with the residents.
“I live in Greendale,” said Bialk who is strongly against the change. “I don’t care what downtown Milwaukee or other places are doing. If I wanted to live there, I would. We want a village, not a city."
Trustee member, Ron Barbian spoke with concerned residents to make sure they knew that he supported their interests.
“If no one wants it, we should not do it,” Barbian said. “We have to follow the will of our residents, but as a board, we have an obligation to look at this. Many people seem to think this is a done deal, but it’s not.”
Greendale Chamber President, Sherry Maierle echoed the message that these concepts are not set in stone but the future of Greendale as a whole had to be taken into consideration.
“The community is very diverse and the question is how do we maintain the historical aspect and make sure the community is viable in the future,” Maierle said.
Greendale Village President, John Hermes, posed this question to many, “What do you want the village to be in 5, 10, 15 years from now? We intended this to be a community discussion.”
Luanne Burdick doesn’t believe any of these concepts will draw much more business to the village.
“People don’t shop in the village on a daily basis, they just don’t,” Burdick said. “It’s not that kind of place. It’s more specialty stores.”
Some business owners, like Dr. John Lubing of the Greendale Medical Clinic, do not oppose the changes proposed in the concepts so long as parking is not affected.
“I’m for repaving but not for these concepts," said resident Joan Borman who frequently uses the municipal lot. "I will do everything I can to fight this. We need that parking. When I go to the doctor, to the village, to the shops, I park there.”
Village officials have said that the number of parking spaces would be preserved, however, some residents have expressed concern over the amount of parking residents from the apartment buildings might take up.
The suggestion of building apartments in the Village Center has raised as much reaction from residents as the possible reconstruction of the parking spaces. Resident Marty Pierce saw some silver lining in the first concept.
“The parking is about equal, not sacrificial,” Pierce said. “The resident building would add to the businesses because it provides easy accessibility to the village.”
Some residents have a very specific idea of what they are and are not okay with from the concepts. Susan Thomat favored the third concept but with some conditions.
“I don’t want any senior or low-income or more than two story buildings there,” Thomat said. “But something needs to be done to provide better parking, liven up the village, preserve green space and the integrity of the village and for the tax base.”
Resident Chuck Lazzaro offered a possible idea.
“If they’re going to put residential there, they should put condos not apartments because anyone who would buy a condo would invest in the village and raise property value,” Lazzaro said.
Parents of Greendale Middle School students, like Amy Ali, saw another problem.
“To me, as a parent, I’m looking at just what will happen to the middle school,” Ali said. “The parking lot and drop-off/pick-up areas are not feasible or workable.”
Village Manager, Todd Michaels, explained to many residents that the goal of the open house and the comment cards was to collect both positive and negative feedback before these concepts are taken to the planning commission.
Greendale residents Jackie Kraemer and Luke Huberty ran an unofficial exit poll by the door. At the end of the night Kraemer was able to flip through several packets with signatures overwhelmingly on the “against residential” side. She wanted people to make sure they knew all the information before this issue becomes something to vote on.
“Once you do it, you can’t take it back,” Kraemer said.
Huberty has one message for all Greendale residents.
“However you feel, let your trustee know,” Huberty said.
At a Greendale Chamber of Commerce event on April 19 Michaels said that about 90% of the people gave negative feedback to the apartment buildings in the concepts at the open house.
The Greendale Planning Commission will review the matter at its next meeting.