Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Village matters: when a facelift's more than vanity

Wauwatosa, economic development

Imagine this: you manage a large commercial complex. Times are hard and there’s plenty competition for renters.

Some of the tenants are making improvements, and you’re hoping to lure more like them. You’ve done some work on the plumbing. But the exterior isn’t good. People drive by and are not impressed.

What do you do?

Invest in paint, repair, and landscaping—a modest investment—to give it a little “hey, that’s NICE! I wanna go there” power? Curbside appeal?

Or shrug your shoulders and hope that a new building manager will do such a good sell job no one will notice what the place looks like?

I’m referring to Pocket Park at the intersection of Harwood and Wauwatosa avenues. If you’ve been to the hopping new Yo Mama’s! or the summer-surging old standard Baskin Robbins in the village, you know what I’m talking about.

According to WauwatosaNOW, you shouldn't  hold your breath waiting for the abandoned space to become less. . . random. The “Rundown park (is) not likely to get facelift.”

Status: Ken Walbrant, parks and forestry superintendent, says that at this time the city will only make repairs if there is a hazardous situation.

"There are no funds for any aesthetic improvements right now," he said, pointing to a tight city - and department - budget.

Right now, the city’s new Economic Development Director, Paulette Enders, is hoping to hire a small business specialist to “help retain and grow successful businesses.” That position would cost another $50-70,000. I’ll give some free advice: landscape and create attractive seating in that central spot. It should be one of the city's points of pride and natural gathering places.

This isn't a "somewhere over the rainbow" dream. It's a relatively low-cost, high return-on-investment, development move that will draw businesses and, more important, the people who make those businesses thrive. Right now, the unsightliness of the "park" discourages return visits.

Another free suggestion: naming rights. How about letting someone fund and lovingly develop this key location and name it after him, her, or it?

By the way, where's the Business Improvement District on this? The Mayor? 

Addition: Apparently the name of the park in question is Root Common, a much better name. Paulette Enders sent me a copy of the draft village plan, which you can see here. Thanks much!


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