Over the past few months, I've received a number of emails from readers decrying the situation on Silver Spring, often blasting Whitefish Bay officials (Trustees and other leaders).
Here's a few snips of one I got this week:
Where is the local leadership??? What about our 2 new Trustees?? Have you heard from them? .. This has a bearing on all of us. (Property values, hello people!) .. I think its time the people take over this issue and start telling the village to get out of the way...they are the friggin problem. Maybe someone can find wherever Katie Pritchard is hiding and get her leadership on this issue. Keep on this Kevin!
To answer that .. you need a "Silver Spring Status Update"
- Silver Spring is being torn up to replace sewers, roads, curbs and sidewalks. By the start of next summer, Silver Spring's physical status will be vastly improved.
- A Business Improvement District has recently been created and staffed.
- A "recruiter" has been contracted to find new businesses to move into the many vacancies.
Now, while you could argue those three items are long overdue, the current crop of Trustees have made them happen.
So .. if you're asking who to blame? I think it breaks down to two groups:
- WFB Officials who were in power from, say, 2001 to 2006. In 2001, the Bayshore expansion was announced. That was the moment we all should have been looking to the future, planning for tougher times for area merchants. After 2006, with a steady drumbeat of business closures, the current crop of Trustees started taking Streetscaping, BIDs, and recruiting seriously. Could they have acted more quickly? Certainly. But they ARE acting now.
- Ourselves. While mostly drowned-out in the past two years, Whitefish Bay has a segment of vocal long-timers who want to party like it's 1959. They are resistant to change, whether that be new development, or tearing down what's old and familiar. A great example of this was in 2006, when "The Bay" was proposed, and met with extreme derision. Honest to god, people actually voiced their opinion by BOOING. It's one thing to not like a development and want it changed in some respects .. but to yell out "boo"? Childish and embarrassing for Whitefish Bay. -- Imagine if a shorter version of The Bay, with the proposed ground level retail complex, had been built. New Land Enterprises would have spent lots of time recruiting new restaurants and businesses to their new digs, which would have had a very positive effect on all of Silver Spring.
So .. what else is there to do? I'd say that breaks into two items:
- Find a way to help the current businesses stay afloat, especially while SS is under construction and the economy is stressed. I don't know how else to say it, but the Trustees must meet with business owners, and examine every ordinance and eliminate all business un-friendly codes. The obvious example is to strike the $164 violation for sandwich board signs.
- Start with the subject: How can we be 100 times more aggressive in finding new businesses to move to Whitefish Bay? Years ago, Shorewood hosted a "conference" of sorts, inviting local leaders, business owners, developers, and landlords, asking them the question: How can we get you to move here? Let's follow Shorewood's, very successful, path.
That being said, we all need to mentally prepare for the worst. With a brutal economy and banking situation, plus SS's road construction .. one can guess we might see a dozen more business closures in the next 6-8 months.
Even with a Silver-Spring Manhattan Project, we are headed for tough times for the foreseeable future.
Make sure you read:
- One less bad guy on WFB's streets!
- Solicitors DO NEED PERMITS
- WFB Picks New Trustee
- Grim Silver Spring Prediction .. a Local Merchant's thoughts..
- Bits & Pieces (New Engineer, Leaf Collection, Crime .. Fire)
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