East Tosa neighborhood seeks greater member involvement
Neighborhood association discussed crime, economic development, infrastructure projects at annual meeting
With homes standing close to each other, sidewalks busy with kids on bikes and dog walkers and a number of nearby shops and restaurants where neighbors can meet up, the Tosa East Towne Neighborhood is a cozy community within Wauwatosa.
Residents of the neighborhood, bordered by North Avenue, 76th and 60th streets, received an update on topics such as crime, economic development and infrastructure projects while hearing about opportunities to get involved during the neighborhood association's annual meeting in late April.
New blood needed
About 30 people showed up at Cranky Al's on North Avenue for the meeting. However, many were the same people who have been actively involved in the association in the past - whether it's on the association board, representing the area as aldermen or as block captains.
With nearly 2,400 households and businesses in the neighborhood there should be plenty of people willing to get involved.
New blood is needed to help keep the many social events going as well as start new activities, said TETNA President Jason Odrzywolski. Volunteers are needed to head up the annual neighborhood rummage sale, fun run, movie night and holiday parties. There's been interest in wine-tasting and joggers' clubs as well as kickball and volleyball teams, but people are needed to organize them.
Wauwatosa Police Sgt. Paul Leist mentioned that TETNA showed a strong commitment to crime prevention with block watches covering nearly every street. But a few block watch captain positions are open on 60th, 63rd, 66th and 70th streets.
"Crime is down pretty much across the board, except for one category," Leist said.
As of the meeting, 14 robberies had occurred in the area compared to 11 the year prior.
Leist said the number of crimes in other categories, especially burglaries and thefts, was down in large part because of residents watching for and reporting suspicious incidents.
Still, people could be more aware, he said. Burglaries typically occur during the day and are witnessed, but the people who noticed sounds like breaking glass or saw cars backing into driveways generally don't connect the dots until afterward.
"Don't get involved, but also don't assume someone else is going to call," he said.
Instead, call police if there's any thought in your mind of something out of place and let officers handle it.
Another reason crime is down: more foot traffic on North Avenue as residents visit the burgeoning business community. Shepherd's just reopened under new ownership as a family-friendly restaurant, Mexican fare will be served up at Bel Air Cantina when it debuts in a few months and another restaurant group is very close to closing a deal in East Tosa, Alderman Joel Tilleson said.
Bel Air "is that one guy that comes along and everyone wants to be near," Alderman Bobby Pantuso said.
East Tosa Gran Prix
Meeting attendees also heard about the East Tosa Gran Prix bicycle race coming to the neighborhood June 30. Residents are encouraged to throw yard parties and cheer on racers as the final stop on the 11-day Tour of America's Dairyland that draws pros from around the world to race with local amateurs.
"We can finally put our neighborhoods and commercial district on display," said Ed Haydin, resident and member of the East Tosa Alliance board.
Right now, fundraising efforts are occurring to cover costs like police presence at the event.
Local businesses like Hawaiian market Ono Kine Grindz are signing on to sponsor and are preparing to make their mark on the athletes and audience.
"I can guarantee they've never been to a professional race that has hula girls at the finish line," Haydin said.
To get involved with TETNA, check out tosaeasttowne.org. People who want to participate in block watch should contact the Community Support Division of the Police Department at (414) 471-8430.
For information on the bike race, go to facebook.com/EastTosaGranPrix.
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