Last week, I spoke to Doug Weas at length about the skills he brings to the table, why he’s running, and what he hopes to do.
Doug grew up in the Green Bay area and went to UWM, majoring in Mass Communications. He’s worked in journalism, construction management, public relations, and most currently, real estate development. His wife grew up in Whitefish Bay, and wanted to raise a family here. Weas has three boys, 8, 11, and 13, attending St. Monica's.
Weas and four others work for Weas Development. In short, as a real estate developer, Weas buys vacant land or buildings on the market, constructs or remodels the property, finds a tenant, then manages the building.
I asked Weas, a busy father of three, why he was running. "Because I can make a difference. We need to be much more aggressive to make Silver Spring a really wonderful retail environment, and right now, we're not doing that. I can use many of the things I understand best about real estate and marketing trends, and apply that to Silver Spring. I think the Village Board needs new ideas and new leadership. I know the kind of things I can accomplish, and know I can make a difference."
While Weas has not served on any official Whitefish Bay committees, he has advised our CDA on occasion, and as a real estate developer, has spoken in front of many municipal boards, giving him eye witness accounts of both good and bad governance.
Weas explained that, with the State of Wisconsin holding annual tax levy increases to 2% plus new development, "if we don't improve the Silver Spring business district, we can only survive so long as a village. Whitefish Bay is land locked, and must increase the value of, not only the business district, but also the residential sector, and make it easier for homeowners to increase the values of their own homes."
Weas suggested that the process of home renovation is challenging in the Village, and the system should be streamlined. He did not suggest allowing cheaper materials or construction methods, but was in favor of loosening the guidelines, creating a more efficient process, and to take an attitude that the Village should encourage residents to improve their homes, which grows the tax base.
"Silver Spring has a great base, a great presence. Whitefish Bay must market the district, and should use the tools that government provides, TIF districts and on rare occasion, Eminent Domain." Weas pointed to a recent "convention" Shorewood put together, where they brought the Village Manager, Board Members, businesses, and land developers together at Hubbard Park Lodge and asked a simple question: What can we do to entice you to move to Shorewood?
Whitefish Bay has "signature opportunities" on Silver Spring that need to be cultivated, Weas said. In order to get the sort of retail developments, the Village must partner with developers, providing TIF revenue to help create desirable properties, or it won't happen. Case in point, Weas suggested, was the proposal to create a retail / office space / condo development on the Famous Footwear/Talbot's property. The developer needed assistance, but TIF money was not provided. (The end result has been that the owner of that property has spoken to CVS and is in discussions with Aurora, two tenants that would be undesirable for Silver Spring's redevelopment. -Kevin)
Weas is in favor of creating a Business Improvement District (BID), however, ultimately believes the Village Board must drive the process of recruiting developers and business to Silver Spring.
My last question to Doug encompassed, of course, my pet issue: When you were growing up in Ashwaubenon, when did you Trick-or-Treat?
Answer: "October 31st, at night."
I wish to thank Doug for taking the time for the interview. I hope to speak to David Fee in the next week, and follow up with all the candidates as we approach the April election.
In the mean time, be sure to read the interviews of the other candidates: