Bay View’s Proposed Wheel Park Now Slated for Sijan Playfield

January 3, 2019

By Katherine Keller

Bay View Neighborhood Association has changed direction with its plans for a Bay View Wheel Park. Originally destined for Humboldt Park, the all-ages BMX, scooter, skates, and skateboard venue is now slated for the upper field of Sijan Playfield. 

The upper field is bordered on the south by Milwaukee Forge, South Nevada Street on the west, and Lake Parkway on the east.

BVNA’s wheel park project leader Nichole Williams originally contacted MPS in 2010 or 2011 but it showed little interest, she said. Instead, she approached Milwaukee County Parks, hoping to convince them to allow BVNA to construct it in Humboldt Park. MPS owns Sijan Playfield.

A preliminary rendering of a feature of a proposed wheel park for Sijan Playfield. Courtesy Milwaukee Public Schools

After several years of failing to reach an agreement with Milwaukee County Parks, which owns Humboldt Park, she determined that its barriers were too cumbersome. 

She approached MPS in April 2018 and she said it welcomed the idea. BVNA and MPS are currently in the early stages of discussing the project and nothing is finalized.

If the two parties reach a consensus, BVNA would fund the project, and when completed and paid for, it would gift the wheel park to MPS.

The plan involves two, possibly, three phases. The first is replacing the existing soccer field with the wheel park, resurfacing the adjacent basketball court, and creating a replacement lighted soccer field in the lower Sijan fields. 

The area outlined in yellow is the upper level of Sijan Playfield where the basketball court and soccer field are located. The wheel park would replace the soccer field, the court would be surfaced, and the soccer field moved to the lower level of the park. Annotated, Google Maps

The estimated Phase One cost $250,000, Williams said. BVNA has already raised $50,000. The remainder would be acquired through grants, sponsorships and donations. 

Phase Two would improve the playground and modernize it as an all-abilities facility.

A potential Phase Three would make improvements to the bathrooms, if necessary, based on use.

Williams noted that unlike Oak Creek, Wauwatosa, West Allis, Brookfield, Delafield, Lake Geneva, Sheboygan, Mt. Horeb, and Madison, which have free and public skate/wheel parks, Milwaukee has none.

Prior to approaching MPS, Williams contacted residents who live within a one block radius of the park to gauge their disposition about constructing a wheel park at Sijan. She said their responses were positive.

BVNA has initiated a capital campaign to raise funding to complete this $200,000 investment.

If you would like to learn more about sponsorships or donations, contact Patty Pritchard Thompson: 

Bay View’s Erth Dispensary Opens Amidst CBD Boom

January 2, 2019

By Sheila Julson

Cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from hemp, has become a blooming industry since it became legal in Wisconsin in spring of 2018. Hemp is marijuana’s cousin but without its psychoactive compounds.

CBD has quickly gained a large, loyal base of users who seek natural alternatives for relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and other issues. 

On Dec. 8, Erth Dispensary, 1200 E. Oklahoma Ave., opened its doors to a line of people waiting outside its door. From the neighborhood and beyond, they eagerly waited to see and purchase CBD tinctures, oils, bath and body products, edibles, hemp flowers, vapes, pet products, and more.

Jennifer Kawczynski, who, with her family owns and operates Erth Dispensary, is a clinical aromatherapist. Photo Tom Grimm

Jennifer Kawczynski, who, with her family owns and operates Erth Dispensary, is a clinical aromatherapist. She started up two years ago as ErthScentials, selling her handcrafted natural bath and beauty products, which she sold at craft fairs, events, and other retail outlets. She studied the craft through coursework offered by the Aromahead Institute.

Kawczynski said she and her family were always passionate about natural, holistic wellness, alternative medicine, and clean eating. Around the time she began researching CBD and using it for herself and her family, customers also began asking for it. She started adding CBD to her products and eventually changed her niche to a CBD company offering products infused with essential oils.

The storefront on Oklahoma and Clement served as a dentist’s office before its most recent incarnation as a computer repair shop. Kawczynski noticed the storefront while visiting her aunt, who lives on Pine Avenue. “I just kept driving past and seeing this space with the For Lease sign, and when I got home, I thought, ‘I’m going to call and see what they want for it,’” she said. She called and found that the lease fit her budget. The open layout was ideal. After setting up the interior and installing a sophisticated security system (customers must be buzzed in, a common measure for most dispensaries), Kawczynski was set to open.

Essential oils infused with CBD oil. Photo Tom Grimm

Medi-Kare Pharmacy was also a previous tenant. Kawczynski hopes to find a historical photo of the building with the Medi-Kare sign and mount it side-by-side with a current photo of Erth Dispensary. 

There was a steady stream of customers on a Tuesday afternoon in December when the Compass stopped by. Previously, Kawczynski worked full-time in the finance industry but now operates Erth Dispensary full-time, with help from her husband, her daughter Cheyenne Code (store manager), and Kawczynski’s mother, known as Grandma Bud.

Kawczynski is also one of the “budtenders” at Erth’s Bud Bar, where customers can get an up-close look at the pure hemp flowers available and experience the different textures, smells, and potencies. “We have a featured Strain of the Week, instead of a Sale of the Week, with hemp buds prepackaged and pre-rolled in joint and blunt format,” Kawczynski said. She plans to expand the Bud Bar with additional strains.

Kawczynski affirmed that CBD’s popularity is testament to people seeking natural options for wellness. As a product that is derived from cannabis sativa and that has just recently become mainstream, there’s still a gray area, and Kawczynski does hear misconceptions about CBD. 

“A lot of people come in and ask if they need a medical card, so the first thing we tell them is that this is CBD, not marijuana,” she explained. “They’re both cannabis, but from different families. You have the hemp, and you have the marijuana.”

Education is a key component to the business, Kawczynski said, and she makes sure there are enough employees available to answer questions. “We don’t want to be too busy where we can’t help people, especially if they don’t know what they’re shopping for,” she said. “CBD, in general has benefits, but there are so many different methods and uses, and we want to welcome and help everybody that comes through the door.” 

CBD oil — apply it to skin, add it to food, or bathe in it. And, yes, you can buy CBD-infused kombucha, too. Photo Tom Grimm

Erth Dispensary has a cooking line, a pet line, a bath and beauty line, edibles, tinctures, smoke, and oils. Bins near the entrance display packaged edibles, mostly gummies, which start at six milligrams and go up to 200 milligrams. Kawczynski recommends those for people new to CBD to learn what works best for them. Near the back of the store, there are higher potency edibles that go up 1,000 milligrams.

A cooking line includes items such as Cannabis Shake, which is pure ground-up stems and leaves that can be used with tea, soups, and smoothies. There’s cannabis seasoning, CBD-infused energy drinks, and LoveBootch Kombucha, a CBD kombucha crafted by a Muskego-based company. Coffee lovers will find Milwaukee-based PhiloCoffia’s CBD-infused bottled espresso shots.

Kawczynski points out the CBD coconut oil, good for cooking or for topical use, which can help relieve psoriasis or dry skin. She noted that people seek CBD products for a wide range of issues. Pregnant women use it to alleviate nausea. She hears from cancer patients receiving chemotherapy who use CBD to help improve their appetites. However, Kawczynski emphasized that CBD does not cure or heal any condition. She said it does help alleviate anxiety, chronic pain, and inflammation-related conditions.

Erth Dispensary also carries CBD honey sticks, throat lozenges, and a line of bath and body products that features soap and bath bombs. A soap maker in Cudahy crafts them using Kawczynski’s own blend. Varieties include Muscle Recovery, Pain Relief, Relax, and Zen. Kawczynski still makes her essential-oil based lotions and bath salts, infused with CBD. 

Pain products consist of menthol thermal patches with 40 milligrams of CBD; CBD balm crafted in what she calls “pain sticks” that are available in three different blends, and roller balls.

People who seek natural relief for ailments, all want the same for their pets. The pet line has two varieties of tincture and also CBD capsules, with additional nutrients such as glucosamine to ease joint and hip pain in elderly dogs. There are also pet treats that can be given as needed to help animals with separation anxiety or to help them relax during thunderstorms or noisy events.

Erth Dispensary also offers a line of non-CBD coffee, condiments, and seasonings made by Not Just Salt & Pepper, a Greenfield-based business run by Tim Novak, a family friend. At a small snack area near the back of the store, customers can sample cookies made by Grandma Bud. 

Customer Robert Hoeppner has been a regular customer since Erth Dispensary opened. He recently learned about CBD and searched online for a source. When he saw that a dispensary was going to open nearby, he stopped in to see what they had. “I use CBD oils to help me sleep,” he said. “I also use CBD products that give you more energy, and I can’t believe how much energy I have after just a couple of days. It helps out a lot.”

A booming industry

Kawczynski is very particular about the companies from which she sources her products. “We like to source locally and test all of our products ourselves,” she said. “We want to offer good quality products to customers, rather than just throwing something out there because the industry is booming.”

Because Wisconsin’s hemp farming industry is fairly new — Wisconsin’s first round of hemp farmers harvested their first crops this past November — Kawczynski sources from established suppliers in Colorado, Florida, and Kentucky. She’s in the process of forging connections with Wisconsin farmers.

Kawczynski said those who would produce or manufacture CBD must be registered, but because she doesn’t produce or manufacture it and just sells it, she was only required to obtain a sellers permit. She keeps reports from all the companies she works with on file. The reports list information about potencies and extraction methods.

“There are no state regulations or licensing, but in this type of industry, you want to make sure you’re doing things correctly. We have one of the best lawyers in the cannabis industry to help us through the steps,” Kawczynski said. “It’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it’s something I’m passionate about. When we hear that our products are offering relief to people that have been dealing with ailments on a daily basis for 10 or 20 years, it’s really rewarding.”

Milwaukee Transit Archives & Museum Relocates to South Shore

December 3, 2018

By Sheila Julson

Larry Fisher’s “Luxury Travel on the North Shore” illustration depicts the North Shore Electroliner pulling out of the Milwaukee Depot, heading to the Sixth Street Viaduct, enroute to Chicago. Fisher, who created this image in 2012, provides a snapshot of downtown Milwaukee in the 1950s. —Transit Archives and Museum

The Hop, Milwaukee’s sleek new streetcar, created buzz during its service debut Nov. 2 – 4 and generated a ridership of 16,409.

But John Giove knows streetcars are nothing new to Milwaukee. As founder, president, and CEO of the Milwaukee Transit Archives & Museum, he can tell visitors all about the interurban line, street railway, trackless trolley, and motor bus lines that operated in metropolitan Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin, the first beginning in the late 1800s.

Transit museum founder and president John Giove seated on an early (c.1910s) rattan passenger seat from a Milwaukee city streetcar. —Katherine Keller

The Milwaukee Transit Archives & Museum, which opened Nov. 2 in its new location in Cudahy features an immense collection of transit artifacts, photos, scale models, streetcar equipment, and art. The museum was previously located on 102nd Street and Lincoln Avenue in West Allis, with additional storage space on 103rd and Oklahoma. After outgrowing the West Allis spaces, the board purchased the building on Packard Avenue October 2017 and consolidated the collection in a former office building, 4763 S. Packard Ave.

The museum currently occupies the lower level of the building, but Giove hopes to open the upper in the coming months. The upper level houses the library, a conference room, and an archive of printed matter, photos, slides, and negatives. Museum admission is currently free, although donations are accepted at the door. The museum is open most Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm. Hours may expand if more volunteers become available.

A museum membership starts at $20 annually. In addition to memberships, funding includes individual and corporate donations and occasional museum sales. 

Giove, 76, grew up in Bay View and attended Bay View High School (BVHS). He later taught social studies at his alma mater and served as director of student activities.

He has been interested in streetcar transit since he was a child and still possesses his first wooden toy trolley car, which is on display. A black-and-white photo near the guestbook shows Giove when he was 5 years old, seated on a sled on Kinnickinnic Avenue after the snowstorm that paralyzed the city in 1947. 

Building a museum

The museum’s opening weekend drew a couple of hundred people, Giove said, some who rode The Hop and then traveled south to see Milwaukee’s transit past. Some of the museum’s artifacts are from Giove’s own collection, and many were donated to the museum over the years. “It’s a work in progress and always will be a work in progress, as that’s that nature of a museum,” he said. “You’re changing displays and always receiving new things.”

The museum has a display case on loan from the Milwaukee Historical Society that features a bell from the last streetcar that ran in Milwaukee. 

There is a room dedicated to the Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee Railroad, more commonly known as the North Shore Line, that offered high-speed electrified, interurban service between downtown Milwaukee and downtown Chicago. The room features a scale model of a full city block of Milwaukee’s North Shore Line passenger depot and freight houses, running off overhead lines. The model was built by Wayne Hammelman, who specialized in crafting HO scale model traction and trains. After Hammelman died in 2012, his wife Lois donated the North Shore Line layout to the museum.

The HO scale trolley layout that operates under live overhead wire was built by the late Wayne Hammelman and donated by his wife Lois Hammelman. Included in the layout are the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal and passenger platforms, freight depot, scale trolley and vehicle models, and the entire city block bounded by N. 5th and 6th streets, and W. Michigan Ave. and W. Clybourn St. Nothing depicted in this 1950s scene exists today. —Katherine Keller

Other cases hold North Shore Line menus from the dining cars on trains or lunch counters in the depot. There are also pieces of china, cutlery, napkins, coasters, photos, and globe lights from the dining car.

Visitors can view vintage Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus passes from the 1980s, along with proofs designed by artist Klaus Birkhain. “The Milwaukee passes typically focused on something going on around town, like the state fair or festivals,” Giove said.

Tom Poliak, who has volunteered at the museum on and off for about 10 years, has held an interest in transit history since he was a child. He grew up on Milwaukee’s northwest side near four bus lines. “I was always fascinated by seeing these big hulking buses going down the street,” he said. Like Giove, Poliak’s transit collection hobby continued to grow, and he donated many signs and other items to the museum. “My entire bus pass collection is going to be in here,” he said.

Poliak said he has Milwaukee bus passes dating back to 1930, when they were first issued. Poliak and his collection had been featured on channels WTMJ-4 and WISN-12, and in Jim Stingl’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column the weekend that MCTS switched to the M-Card digital fare card.

For many years, cold hard cash was required to board most buses and streetcars. The museum has vintage metal and glass cash fare boxes.

The northbound No. 864 streetcar on S. Delaware Ave. at E. Rusk Ave. It was the stop closest to John Giove’s childhood home on S. Superior St. —Transit Archives and Museum

Its holdings include an extensive photo collection documents historical streetcars, interurban lines, and trackless trolleys, with street images visible in many. One might be surprised to learn that Milwaukee even had double-decker buses for a short time. “London doesn’t have anything on us,” Giove joked.

Visitors can view the operator’s cab of a streetcar, with the original handle, air brake stand, side door lever, fare box, and the side door. A motorman’s uniform, bus seats, and an early call radio provide more glimpses about the way people got around the Milwaukee region in decades past.

Giove said the museum will participate in next year’s Doors Open Milwaukee event and hopes to partner with nearby Cudahy Historical Society, as well as the South Shore Cyclery’s Milwaukee Bike Museum, which is located across the street from the Transit Museum. 

Giove observed that there doesn’t seem to be one particular display or artifact that’s a dominant favorite among visitors. Each visitor focuses on something different. 

Does Giove have a favorite artifact? “All of it,” he said after a slight pause. “All of it has significance. We’re very proud of the North Shore layout.”

He already obtained two items from The Hop—a button and brochure.

Incorporated in Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Transit Archives & Museum, Inc. on December 22, 2004, a search for affordable quarters for an archival museum led to office space in the lower level of a building at S. 102nd Street & W. Lincoln Avenue in West Allis. Occupancy commenced August 31, 2004, beginning with an effort to acquire display and archival storage cases and converting the space for museum use. Bylaws were adopted November 2006 and the museum’s nonprofit 501(c)(3) status was approved by the IRS on May 6, 2007. 

Source: Milwaukee Transit Archives & Museum

Milwaukee Transit Archives and Museum

4763 S. Packard Ave.
(414) 345-7210

Editor’s Note: Read a fascinating account by Jim Boyd, about riding the North Shore Line from his home in Northern Illinois to Milwaukee from 1961-1963, when he attended the Layton School of Art:

And to read more about the history of the art and design of MCTS bus passes: Kriston Capps’ “Farewell to Milwaukee’s Classic, Hand-Crafted Bus Passes,”

George Washington Bay View Post 180 May Be Demolished

August 1, 2018

George Washington Bay View Legion Post 180.      Courtesy GW BV Post 180

“A Bay View landmark since 1941, this building has served its country as home to the George Washington Bay View American Legion Post 180. Now it’s time to serve the community in a different way.” So reads a sentence in First Weber Realtors’ listing for the red brick building perched on the corner of Kinnickinnic and Fulton.

An offer to purchase the property, 2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is pending, contingent on the prospective buyer successfully obtaining a raze permit from the city of Milwaukee, according to Emily Huf of Shoreline Contracting Services, Milwaukee.

Huf filed the application to raze the building on behalf of her client July 30.

Huf said the buyer’s identity will be revealed “as soon as the city issues the raze permit.” She anticipates the review process, which includes searching for existing historic preservation designation or other restrictions, will take about two weeks.

The property is listed for $699,000.

The 7,194-square-foot building consists of an open auditorium on the main floor and a bar and restaurant on the lower level, equipped with a full kitchen and walk-in cooler. The lot is .69 acres and includes a 54-space parking lot.

As the Compass reported in 2014, Post 180 began in June 1927 when Fred Osterndorf, who later became the post’s first commander, began recruiting local veterans to a Bay View chapter of the national American Legion. In 1928, the post was chartered as Bay View Post 180 and was headquartered in a (no longer existing) building, 2530 S. Shore Dr., that it leased from the Carnegie Illinois Steel Company of Chicago. Soon the post’s membership grew and its services expanded. By the next decade, it became clear the post needed to move to a larger building. The building it now occupies was erected  in 1941. The post purchased the land from the city of Milwaukee and constructed the building for $25,000.

In 1971, Bay View Post 180 merged with the St. Francis Post and was re-chartered as Bay View St. Francis Post 180. After another merger in 2002 with the George Washington Post, it was renamed yet again, and still today goes by the name George Washington Bay View Post 180. The function of the organization has remained the same throughout its nearly 90 year history—to mentor and sponsor youth programs, promote and advocate for veterans affairs, to rehabilitate veterans, and to provide a social and democratic forum for veterans.

At one time, Post 180 boasted 1,000-plus members but by 2014, it had dwindled to 177.

In 2014, Bob Schlemm, a 40-year Post 180 member said that his group was confronting the perception that the Legion was for senior veterans. “We’re struggling right now,” he said. “We’re struggling to find memberships, and it’s not that we’re short of veterans…We just went down to the Reserve Center two weekends ago and one of the things we were approached with was, ‘Well I’m not 60, 70 years old; why would I want to belong to an American Legion? My father belonged to it.’”

Constructed in 1941, the brick Georgian Revival building was designed by Nicholas Backes, who also designed the former American Legion Headquarters in Milwaukee, 812 E. State Street, in 1923.

A number of different restaurateurs operated as tenants in the building. The most recent was Little DeMarinis pizzeria, which closed in March.

A review of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Architecture and History Inventory records would indicate that there are no existing historical designations for the building.

This report will be updated when the Compass receives comment from the Legion’s members.

In 1928 the first local post was chartered as Bay View Post 180 and was headquartered in a building at 2530 S. Shore Drive that it leased from the Carnegie Illinois Steel Company of Chicago. Courtesy George Washington Bay View American Legion Post 180


Bay View Apartment Building Boasts Prairie Gardens

July 31, 2018

By Sheila Julson

Former owner Mike Grinker planted two sections of prairie plants at the apartment building, 2624 S. Austin St., replacing a grass lawn. He was motivated by his desire to beautify the property for the benefit of his neighbors and other residents and to do his part to provide pollinator habitat. —Photo Katherine Keller

A Bay View apartment building on the corner of East Dover and South Austin streets has its own little prairie ecosystem. A vibrant mix of native prairie grasses and flowering perennials dance and bob in the breeze. Planted on the east and south property borders, purple coneflower, Black-eyed Susans, orange butterfly milkweed, and other native prairie species attract bees, butterflies, and other wildlife.

“When I was here yesterday mowing lawn, about five goldfinches came flying out. If you think about it, this is nature’s bird feeder. I’ve also seen baby rabbits,” said Scott Silverson, who, with his wife Emily, owns the building on Austin Street. They also own a dozen other properties throughout Milwaukee, through their property management firm Plinth Group, LLC.

The prairie plants on the steep incline that borders the parking
lot help slow and deter storm water runoff because their root systems are deep and the water tends to penetrate better. —Photo Katherine Keller

Silverson purchased the Austin Street build­ing from previous owner Mike Grinker in Spring 2017. Grinker, who owned the building for five years, was motivated to create the prairie gardens in response to reports of the declining numbers of bees and butterflies. “We had a desire to do our part and a desire to beautify the property
for the benefit of our neighbors and residents,” Grinker said. He and his wife Sharon worked with Chris Miracle from LandWorks, Inc., in Sussex, Wis., to make the plant selections.

“The landscaping has native plants and flowers. It’s something different, since there are already a lot of manicured lawns out there,” he said.

Silverson continues to work with LandWorks to help maintain the prairie gardens.

“It’s a big deal for pollinators, and there are many discussions in the news about how bees and bee habitat are disappearing, and that’s a problem,” Silverson said. Currently, Austin Street is the sole building among his properties that boasts a prairie garden. However, he recently finished a yard restoration project at another property where he replaced worn grass with a small garden plot for the residents to enjoy from their back porch.

Since he’s owned the property, Silverson made changes on the north side of the building. He removed trees that were too close to the neighbor’s house and replaced them with a mix of random plants and groundcover. LandWorks also assisted with that project.

The prairie plants on the steep incline that borders the parking lot help slow and deter storm water runoff because their root systems are deep and the water tends to penetrate better. “There are no big gushes of water. The Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewage District doesn’t have to drain as much [runoff water]. It’s a win-win all the way around,” Silverson said.

During the summer months, the prairie garden is in full bloom. Wisps of color accent lush greenery. But Silverson said that in spring and fall, the gardens take on a weak, weedy look. So he placed signs in each garden to inform passersby that they are looking at “native prairie plants.” The sign further informs, Please do not spray or mow. This area had been planted with native wildflowers and grasses, providing diverse habitat for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.

“The signs are a way for people walking down the sidewalk to recognize what it is, and to maybe be inspired to try it themselves,” Silverson said. His tenants enjoy it, plus he uses the garden to market the building when he has a vacancy. 

—Photo Katherine Keller

The prairie gardens do not make the property maintenance-free, but Silverson said he probably does less maintenance than he would if the property was surrounded with a grass lawn.

This past spring, Silverson worked with LandWorks specialists to cut the garden back with a special trimmer and rake out weeds and dead plants. They also rake in autumn and harvest seeds for later use.

Silverson is intrigued by the gardening process and enjoys the trial and error, like watching plants grow, pulling weeds, and seeing where plants do or do not fill in an area.

He stressed that patience is a virtue, especially when establishing a prairie garden. “If you want it to be green tomorrow, you need to get sod!” he said with a laugh. “This takes a couple of years to get established, but I love it.”

Lincoln Warehouse Owners Purchase Hide House

July 31, 2018

By Katherine Keller

General Capital purchased the Hide House in 2008, originally intending to convert the brick structure to condominiums. —Photo Katherine Keller

Boston-area-based attorneys Richard Gold and Tom Gold have purchased the Hide House in Bay View.

The four-building factory complex that straddles South Greeley St. between Dover Street and Deer Place has served as a hub for artists and small businesses for a decade and a half.

Father and son team Richard and Tom Gold acquired the complex for $2.4 million dollars from General Capital of Fox Point.

After purchasing the Hide House, General Capital tended to deferred maintenance projects like brick tuck-pointing, roofing, and other structural repairs. During its tenure, it also renovated and improved underutilized spaces to increase the number of creative suites. “We added over 50,000 square feet of new tenant space after acquiring the property.” Sig Strautmanis said.

Alton Bathrick (Alton Enterprises) and his son Gibson Bathrick purchased the property in 2001 to redevelop it as artist studios and band rehearsal space. They began with the largest building, 2625 S. Greeley, replacing windows, installing bathrooms, and making electrical and other improvements.

General Capital purchased the property in 2008 for an undisclosed price, originally intending to convert the brick structure to condominiums.

“At the time we purchased the property, we had envisioned converting the property into an affordable condo complex,” said Sig Strautmanis, a member of General Capital’s development team.

“We partnered with our friend Robert Joseph, who is an expert at adaptive reuse of historic buildings and has done numerous residential conversions. Of course, our plans came to a screeching halt with the recession. I became more involved in the property personally after we decided to forego any plans for a huge residential conversion, and to, instead, stabilize the property as a creative arts space, community magnet for the arts—creative class type of stuff.”

General Capital tended to deferred maintenance projects like brick tuck-pointing, roofing, and other structural repairs. During its tenure, it also renovated and improved underutilized spaces to increase the number of creative suites.

“We added over 50,000 square feet of new tenant space after acquiring the property.” Strautmanis said. 

Richard and Tom Gold own the Lincoln Warehouse, 2018 S. First St., a property similar to the Hide House, located a mile north on the northeast corner of Becher and First streets. In 1986, Walter Gold, Richard Gold’s father, owned a warehouse in downtown Milwaukee when he purchased the Lincoln property. At that time, its tenants were chiefly using it as storage and warehouse space. 

Gold had purchased his downtown property, 1110 N. Old World Third St., in 1924. Built in 1923, according to city records, and situated on the Milwaukee River, the building served as a warehouse for river transport and rail trade. (Decades later one of the building’s tenants was Lucille’s Piano Bar.)

In the 1950s when large tractor-trailer trucks began to replace river and rail transport, Gold was challenged because his building’s docks were not accessible by the big vehicles. 

Gold sold the Old World Third building in 1986 and purchased the five-story Lincoln building the same year. He transferred his warehouse business to the new south side venue that was two blocks from I-94 and offered better accessibility for semis. 

Built in 1928, the Lincoln building once served as grocery chain A&P’s storage facility. There was also a bakery in the building at one time, which some Bay View residents recall as being A&P’s. Huffy manufactured basketball backboards in the building and Foamation, maker of Cheesehead hats and other gear, started up in the Lincoln building in 1980. Necco candy processed its candy Valentine hearts in the building.

Richard and Tom Gold said they always envisioned the vast Lincoln building as a storage facility but when they hired Andrew Bandy as their developer of properties and broker to rent space, he suggested the building’s assets could be better utilized.

“He convinced us we didn’t understand the building,” Tom Gold said. He pointed out its beautiful windows and wonderful light. Convinced, they began to change their business model to attract small business start-ups, small businesses, and artists. 

There were 22 tenants in the Lincoln Warehouse when they began the conversion in 2007. Currently
there are more than 140 tenants who occupy 168,000 square feet of the converted space. A few tenants still use the building for storage.

The new Hide House owners intend to continue renovating the buildings. There are unoccupied spaces in the main building, 2625 S. Greeley St., that they will build out and fill with a similar tenant base and they will update the basement of Building 10, 2612 S. Greeley, and seek a tenant. 

“We will follow the same philosophy as Lincoln Warehouse and continue to build out for the next few years as demand requires. Eventually, we will add as many as 40 new spaces,” Bandy said. Currently there are 60 tenants.

When the Hide House came on the market in 2015, the Golds felt it was a good fit. The tenant base and its community was similar to the Lincoln Warehouse and Richard and Tom were drawn to the “buildings’ style, exposed brick, and beautiful wood floors.”

“We love the tenants,” Tom Gold said. “They’re good people, good tenants. We appreciate their spirit and drive and camaraderie. They are people working together. It’s a wonderful community.”

The new Hide House owners intend to continue renovating the buildings. There are unoccupied spaces in the main building, 2625 S. Greeley St., that they will build out and fill with a similar tenant base and they will update the basement of Building 10, 2612 S. Greeley, and seek a tenant. 

“We will follow the same philosophy as Lincoln Warehouse and continue to build out for the next few years as demand requires. Eventually, we will add as many as 40 new spaces,” Bandy said. Currently there are 60 tenants.

 “We will add our flavor,” Tom Gold said. “Paint, polish, make it look a little fresher. We take pride in our tenants, their energy and creativity. We will maintain the current economies,” Tom Gold said, “in terms of rent, to continue the venue’s appeal to the tenant base.” 

“We like to give them a place to do their thing,” Richard Gold added. 

“Rich and Tom are involved in the day to day, they’re not just investors,” said Bandy. “They take pride in what they do and they’re proud of the environments (they own).”

The Golds retained Ralph Barron who tenants regard as the heart and soul of the Hide House. He has provided maintenance services there since 2001. —Photo Katherine Keller

Regarded as the heart and soul of the Hide House by its tenants, the Golds retained Ralph Barron who has provided maintenance services in the complex since 2001. “We hired Ralph Barron because the tenants love him. He’s a great guy. Great smile. He knows the tenants and he knows the building,” Tom Gold said.

There were many challenges, Tom Gold said, including some environmental issues that needed to be remedied that prolonged the purchase process, stretching to a little more than three years.

“There was no contamination that was a danger to the tenants, but to close out a property with the DNR requires extensive documentation, committee approvals, and the like,” Strautmanis said.

Paul Grittner of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Division of Environmental Management, familiar with the remediation required at the Hide House, said the chief problem was contaminated soil surrounding the buildings, likely brought to the site in fill soil. Coal fired boilers once provided the buildings’ hot water heat and may also have contributed to the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) contamination. The remediation included capping an area behind one of the small buildings, adjacent to the main building, with a parking lot. Traces of hexavalent chromium were found in the basement of Building 2, on the west side of the complex. It was capped with a vinyl liner and gravel. 

First Federal Bank of Wisconsin, a Waukesha-based community bank, financed the purchase. 

“First Federal saw us as a community based project,” Tom Gold said, who praised its bankers Matthew Mancuso and David Rosenwald.

The Golds also shared their admiration for the seller. “You always hope for a deal partner like General Capital. They’re a class act. All were great to work with. Everyone was patient, generous, and good with each other,” said Tom Gold.

Reflecting on General Capital’s ownership decade, Strautmanis said, “I’m super proud that we were able to build on and improve the concept Gib Bathrick and his family started. We maintained a property that is truly unique to Milwaukee. For example, it is one of the only places where bands can rent space and rehearse. We kept that alive and cheap. I think that’s pretty cool. And I’m proud of Mary Abitz, our property manager, who dealt with the day-to-day operations. It took a lot of hand holding to keep tenants happy and living well together.”

When asked what he’d like to say to the Hide House tenants, he replied, “We’re really pleased to have found the right buyer for Hide House. One who intends to keep the spirit of the property intact and to promote the creative nature of the community. The fit could not have been better. For that, I’m grateful for a seamless hand off.”

General Capital retained four of its Hide House assets including the Hide House Lofts, apartments that it constructed in 2010, the lot that fronts the apartment building, and two more lots on Burrell St., one occupied by the Hide House Community Garden. —Photo Katherine Keller

The north end of the Hide House complex was demolished to make way for the
Hide House Lofts. —Photo Katherine Keller

General Capital retained four of its Hide House assets including the Hide House Lofts, apartments that it constructed in 2010, the lot that fronts the apartment building, and two more lots on Burrell St., one occupied by the Hide House Community Garden.

A number of factories have operated in the Hide House buildings since its first structure was built in the late 19th century. One manufactured metal bed frames and mattresses. Another was a tannery that made patent leather shoes and later, footwear for the U.S. military.

For more information about the history of the Hide House complex: and for a detailed history prepared by the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission:

Disclosure: The Bay View Compass has been a Hide House tenant since 2008. Ten years ago the complex was virtually unknown, so much so that many visitors had difficulty finding it, in some cases, even long time Bay View residents. The Compass redubbed it The Hidden House. Today it is a far more common destination for those patronizing the photo, design, and artisan studios, gyms, salons, church, rehearsal space, etc., and it is highlighted on Google Maps.

Proponents of KK BID Termination Narrowly Prevail

July 30, 2018

By Katherine Keller

The Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District will be terminated. 

Those who led the effort to dissolve the KK BID succeeded by a margin of less than one percent. 

Owners of 117 of the 194 commercial properties in the district signed the petition to dissolve, although the number of petition signers is irrelevant in the termination process.

To terminate a BID, the value of the petition signers’ commercial property must be greater than 50 percent of the total value of all the commercial properties in the district.

The final tally was $22,434,112 out of the total property value of $44,392,414, or 50.54 percent. 

The lettering that once spelled “Bay View” on the south-facing wall of the Art Stop Bus Stop on Lincoln Avenue between Howell and Kinnickinnic avenues, was removed after vandals swiped three of the letters. The Kinnickinnic Avenue BID is waiting for contractor Kotze Construction to replace the lettering. Kotze built the Art Stop structure. The BID was responsible for landscape maintenance and for snow removal at Art Stop. It is not yet clear who will assume the maintenance role but Ald. Tony Zielinski said that he is considering numerous possibilities. One idea is finding an advertising company to maintain the site. —Photo Katherine Keller

Alderman Tony Zielinski, who persuaded property owners to establish the KK BID in 2009, failed in a last ditch effort to overturn the petition majority, even though earlier this year, when he learned of the effort to terminate the BID, he told the Compass he would support the will of the majority, whatever the outcome.

State statutes govern business improvement districts in Wisconsin. The statutes decree that after petition signatures are submitted to city officials, there must be a 30 day period to allow additional property owners to sign the petition or to withdraw their signatures.

Duffey and Brazeau redoubled their effort to gather more signatures to regain their majority. They succeeded, but waited to turn them in to city officials until an hour before the 30-day waiting period expired, not wishing to tip their hand to Zielinski.

After Zielinski discovered that Duffey and Brazeau had gathered sufficient petition signatures to terminate, he began talking with some of the signers, including Waqar Hussain, who owns the BP station, 2023 S. Kinnickinnic, and Amarjit Virk, who owns Siegel’s Liquor, 2632 S. Kinnickinnic. Their annual license applications are approved or denied by the Common Council’s Licenses Committee, which at the time, was chaired by Zielinski.

Both men are dependent on city licenses that permit them to operate their businesses. Both withdrew their signatures. When Tim Olson, who owns numerous commercial properties on Kinnickinnic Avenue, also withdrew, Duffey and Brazeau’s petition no longer represented a majority.

They redoubled their effort to gather more signatures to regain their majority. They succeeded, but waited to turn them in to city officials until an hour before the 30-day waiting period expired, not wishing to tip their hand to Zielinski.

Ken Little is the manager of the Commercial Corridor section of the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development. His team oversees the city’s business improvement district.

This year Kinnickinnic Avenue was not bedecked with hanging flower baskets, a project of the KK BID. When the viability of the BID came into question because of the petition drive to terminate it, BID president Lee Barczak canceled its order for the baskets. Bay View Neighborhood Association may take over the the project in the future. —Photo Jennifer Kresse

“We turned in seven more signatures to get more than 50 percent,” Brazeau said. “I turned the signatures in at around 3:50pm. Ken Little then advised Lee Barczak that he had until 5pm to turn in any retractions. I waited around until 5pm just to make sure no one came in, like Tony or Lee.” No one appeared.

Like Barczak, Zielinski was also informed that Brazeau and Duffey had a majority. He responded by phoning KK BID property owners, including Joyce Parker, who owns Alana Women’s Apparel and four buildings in the BID, and Ron Romero, who owns Ron and Russ’s Flooring & Design and four buildings in the district.

Duffey, Brazeau, and others who signed the petition were motivated by their opposition to a potential hike proposed by Barczak that would increase the special assessment property owners pay to fund the BID. Since its establishment, BID members had paid a one percent property tax surcharge, which was limited to not less than $100 and to no more than $1,000 per property

KK BID president Lee Barczak sided with Zielinski and hoped to salvage the organization. Apart from their effort, there was no apparent countermovement by the district’s property owners to preserve the BID.

Zielinski was optimistic that Barczak’s drive to recruit new board members would succeed and that they would bring to fruition aspects of Barczak’s vision for the district. 

In a letter Barczak wrote to the Compass and KK BID members in spring to defend the BID, Barczak said he wanted the BID to stage music performances in commercial spaces in the business district, akin to house concerts where musicians play to small audiences in private homes.

He wanted the new board members to consider sponsoring a parade to fill the gap created after the beloved South Shore Frolics Parade was discontinued several years ago. He also hoped the BID would sponsor events like the ToaD bicycle race that brings people to the district. 

In his letter, Barczak also spoke of the BID’s achievements such as new waste bins and flower baskets on Kinnickinnic, the BID’s website, and the murals painted on five buildings in the district.

Duffey, Brazeau, and others who opposed the KK BID fumed that there was virtually no participation by property and business owners and that in the past two years, its meetings were canceled more often than conducted because there were too few board members to form a voting quorum. They disputed a need for a BID.

“Bay View is already quite successful and the BID did not help in a significant way,” Duffey said. “We expected more—completing audits in a timely fashion, spending our money wisely, updating the operating plan (many things in the current plan reference 2010), and having board members that attend the meetings. There is a significant number of organizations that do a lot of work with volunteers, but this was not one of them.”

Barczak wanted the new board members to consider sponsoring a parade to fill the gap created after the beloved South Shore Frolics Parade was discontinued several years ago. He also hoped the BID would sponsor events like the ToaD bicycle race that brings people to the district.

Referencing the assessments collected and funneled to the BID since its establishment, Duffey said, “We did not get $450,000 worth of results from the BID. Of the few positive things that the BID accomplished, in particular the hanging flower baskets, those can still be accomplished by us working with the Bay View Neighborhood Association. I have already donated money to them and plan to in the future. I highly encourage other property owners to do that as well. Their list of accomplishments is quite impressive.”

“We are willing to take over the flower basket project,” said Patty Pritchard Thompson, Bay View Neighborhood Association president. “We helped to initiate the program, and would happily pick it up again.”

Winding down

The KK BID’s funds will be determined by an audit that the BID is required to provide to the city. After settling outstanding obligations, the remainder will be returned to property owners.

Kotze Construction is owed $15,124 for work performed to construct the Art Stop bus stop on Lincoln Avenue between Kinnickinnic and Howell. Rupert Kotze, company vice president, said that his company has not completed some of the contracted work, including installing skateboard stops to deter skaters from riding up Art Stop’s walls and replacing the lettering that spelled “Bay View” on the south-facing wall.

Kotze was circumspect in response to a Compass inquiry about the money it was owed stating he didn’t want get into an argument with the BID in the paper. “It is my hope that after we complete the list of items, installing the skateboard stops and lettering, that at that time (BID) money would be released.”

Months passed after the letter “e” was stolen from the south wall of the Art Stop bus stop in Bay View. Eventually two more letters were taken. —Photo Katherine Keller

Lee Barczak concurred. “There have been several meetings with the Kotze Construction firm and they have promised repeatedly to finish all the work of the Art Stop,” he said. “The lettering is one of several items that has not been completed. I asked as recently as two weeks ago what sort of timeline we could expect for this promised completion. I have no response. The monies that were withheld were done so in order to have some form of leverage for completion. The owner of the company is aware of and has agreed to us withholding these monies.”

“The people have spoken and the BID will be terminated,” Zielinski said.

The BID was officially terminated by vote of the full Common Council July 31.

The purpose of business improvement districts is to enhance commercial property values and to promote its businesses.

This report was updated to reflect the vote of the Common Council, July 31, to terminate the KK BID.

Five New Homes Will Gussy Up Corner at Aldrich and Bay

July 2, 2018

By Katherine Keller

This aerial view of Ryan Konicek’s Bay Point development on the southeast corner of Bay and Lenox streets shows the five condominiums that are scheduled for completion in October. Konicek also purchased the adjacent lot and concrete block building to house his construction and development businesses. The large parking lot to the south was recently renovated by Wrought Washer, who owns it. Courtesy Ryan Konicek

Construction of the Bay View Point condominium development is scheduled for completion in October.

The five single-family units, consisting of three single-standing units and a two-unit row house, are located on the southeast corner of Aldrich and Bay streets. Each is three stories with an attached two-car garage. 

Developer Scott Konicek (Ryan Scott Development) presold all five units, one for himself.

He purchased the parcel from Wrought Washer, originally intending to build a 45-unit apartment building. When District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski opposed it, Konicek proposed five condos.

The site was rezoned from industrial to RT4, the city’s classification for two-family residential sites. The parcel is within the boundaries of the Harbor District and is on the southern border of Bay View’s old industrial corridor.

Fourteen people attended a public meeting concerning the condominium development prior to the development hearing before the City Plan Commission. Konicek said the majority supported the project.

“They are truly higher-end homes,” said Konicek. In addition to the amenities such as proximity to the dog park, restaurants, and bars, “it’s cool that the homes are close to the industrial district.” He said the views are good from the second and third floors.

The condos’ design is intended to reflect Milwaukee architecture and suit the neighborhood but with a modern cast. Each home has two bedrooms (with space on the first floor for another), a combination of 3 to 4 bathrooms/half baths, balconies, and a deck over the garage. The main living quarters are on the second and third floors.

Bay View Point North Elevation
Sections of the exterior will be sheathed in a 5-inch composite lap siding and contrasted with sections clad in 12-inch flush architectural metal panels.

Bay View Point
West Elevation
The new homes, 2104-2118 S. Aldrich St., face west. At the rear, each will have a deck on the roof of the attached two-car garage

Architect Robert Yuhas said the city of Milwaukee “required the design to take into consideration the existing neighborhood residential architecture.”

“We pulled from the local vernacular,” he said, “so there are gabled ends, steeply-pitched roofs, and steps that lead up to the entry.” 

Horizontal cables instead of vertical balusters are featured on the cedar-framed balcony railings. Sections of the exterior will be sheathed in a 5-inch composite lap siding and contrasted with sections clad in 12-inch flush architectural metal panels. Each unit possesses a unique sheathing pattern. Because Milwaukee’s building code requires two exists, an exterior spiral staircase drops from the third to the second story.

Konicek also purchased the 36,329 square-foot parcel with a garage/warehouse, directly east of the condominiums. He is renovating the former Wrought Washer building to house his construction and development company, including an addition for offices on the east facade.

Architect Russell Raposa said the addition will have an industrial design to tie into the architecture of the garage. City records indicate the 5,562 square-foot concrete block structure was built in 1957. 

Racine-native Konicek, 29, sought property to develop in Bay View for four years before acquiring the Wrought Washer parcels. Beginning at age 19, he and his brother purchased and renovated a number of homes in Bay View, then sold them. He also owns cabinet and millwork, metal fabrication, and construction companies.

Buy, Rehab, Sell

Beginning at age 19, Konicek and his brother purchased and renovated a number of homes in Bay View, then sold them. Here are six examples. To view before and after images, consult the Past Project section: 

3446 S. Delaware Ave. —Katherine Keller

3324 S. New York Ave. —Katherine Keller

2941 S. Lenox St. —Katherine Keller

2355 S. Ohio Ave. —Katherine Keller

2351 S. Logan Ave. —Katherine Keller

323 E. Clarence St. —Katherine Keller

South Shore Farmers Market Celebrates 20 Years

July 2, 2018

By Sheila Julson


Members of the South Shore Farmers Market managing committee and support staff: Back, from left: Chad VanDierendonck, Mark Budnik, Jim Griffith, Tom Issetts, Kurt Mihelich, Stephanie Harling. Front: Ann Hippensteel, Angie Tornes, Mary Beth Driscoll, Brigid Globensky, Amy Mihelich, Sue Boyle. Not present: Kathy and Frank Mulvey. —Jennifer Kresse

The South Shore Farmers Market (SSFM) readily established itself as a neighborhood tradition when it was launched in 1998. A mecca of sights, sounds, tantalizing scents, people, and dogs, the market has frequently won or placed high in reader’s polls and received props in local food-related news articles.

Marking its 20th anniversary this year, this community mainstay serves as a springboard for local farmers and artisan food entrepreneurs and a showcase for musicians.

SSFM will celebrate its 20th anniversary July 14 with Big Brass Band, a New Orleans-style band that will perform from 10 to 11:30am. A big carrot sheet cake will also be served, said Angie Tornes, one of SSFM’s founders.

Stephanie Harling, SSFM committee member and former market manager, remembers the early years. “What the community probably didn’t know was that the inception of the market was filled with uncertainty about whether this would work in Bay View or not,” she reflected. “Our committee of about five or six residents anxiously waited at 7am in the park, just hopeful that the small amount of vendors that agreed to take this journey with us would actually show up.”

Wild Flour Bakery, owned by Dolly and Greg Mertens, has been a staple at the South Shore Farmers Market since its inception and was one of only six vendors at the first market, July 24, 1999. —Katherine Keller

The vendors kept their word and the market’s first day attracted about 200 shoppers. “We felt like that was a successful start. Little did we know it would grow to be one of the best markets in the city,” she said.

The uncertainty that clouded that first year wasn’t the only obstacle faced by the SSFM committee—they also had a very low budget. “We found ourselves rigging up a makeshift shelter on the rainy days,” Harling said. “We would have to string a tarp from tree to tree for the managers to use as shelter during inclement weather.”

Harling expressed optimism that the SSFM will continue to be a summertime community cornerstone. “It’s been amazing to be at the market every Saturday and see the families that come to the market grow each year, to see the babies from the early years grow up to be young adults as they hit all the expected milestones that life has to offer,” she said. “Hopefully they will carry fond memories of Saturday mornings in the park. I’m looking forward to the day when some of them take the torch from us and can experience what it is to create something that fosters community.”

Tornes recalled not only the apprehension of the market’s first day, but also the weather. “It was cold and wet and it rained that day and everyone had flimsy tents, and there were these big billowed pockets of water collecting on top of the tents. We had to push those off occasionally,” she said. 

Tornes has seen a generation of families grow, those of the shoppers and vendors. The Herren family, sweet corn, tomatoes, and melon growers, has been with SSFM since the beginning. “Mark Herren was only 13 when they started. Dolly Mertens, owner of Wild Flour Bakery, often looked out for him, when the rest of his family was at another market. “Mark has now turned into a robust young man and assists his dad,” she said.

Despite the founders’ initial uncertainty, the market grew year after year.

“We always keep count of the people attending, and at one point it just started
to explode,” Tornes said. “Previously, everyone recognized each other but at some point between the 10th and 15th year, we realized that something was going on. There was a huge influx of people coming in, and we didn’t recognize everyone right off the bat. We began informally asking people where they were coming in from, and we heard answers like Racine.”

The SSFM committee has since helped others communities form farmers markets, including Fox Point and Wauwatosa. “The community aspect of our farmers market is like a street festival every week,” Tornes said. She credited Sue Boyle, Stephanie Harling, Kathy Mulvey, Mary Beth Driscoll, Brigid Globensky, Michael O’Toole, Kurt Mihelich, treasurer Amy Mihelich, and the market managers for the SSFM’s success.

Bert Kelley and his wife Kellie Krawczyk have lived in Bay View for 20 years and shopped at the market since its beginnings.

Kelley fondly recalled the market’s early days. “It was small and lightly attended, and it was like our own little club,” he said, “and it took off so quickly!” He said it has grown into a great asset for the community.

His neighbor, Paula Kosinski, has also lived in Bay View with her husband Paul since the late 1990s and occasionally attended the market over the years. “It has changed dramatically since the beginning, but it’s cool to see some of the same vendors still there after all this time.” She grew up on a dairy farm in Montford, Wis., near the state’s Driftless Area, and enjoys connecting with farmers at the market. “It’s fun to walk around and talk with the diverse farmers selling meat and produce,” she said.

Chuck Doughty has lived in Bay View since 2006. He and his wife Jessica have attended to the SSFM almost every Saturday morning over the past 12 years. “It used to be just a few booths, but it has since expanded all the way across the park and has become a social gathering spot,” he said. “There’s a lot of prepared foods, and we’ll bring the kids and get a croissant, or something, and watch music. There’s entertainment, and we’re seeing everything from bluegrass to rock and roll to folk music and belly dancing. We meet family and friends there every Saturday morning.”

Doughty, a realtor, touts the SSFM as a great example of how wonderful Bay View is, to people thinking of moving here. “The market is a fabulous place to grab some groceries and meet your neighbors, their kids, and their dogs,” he said.

Jeanine Becker, owner of Madam J’s Sticky Fingers Jams and Jellies, is one of the original SSFM vendors. She fondly recalled the first season. “That’s when we were just putting up a table and seeing if we could get some people to come. There was no charge for a space, no formal structure to the market,” she said.

There are far more dogs than vendors at the South Shore Farmers Market held each summer from mid-June to mid-October in South Shore Park. Jen Leonard and Chewy, her 10-week-old Golden Doodle, came from Franklin, Wis., to visit the market. —Katherine Keller

As the market has grown, so has the market’s community. “One of the best parts for me is to see the same people year after year,” Becker said, “watching their kids grow up, young couples having their first child, and new dogs added to the family. The folks who come to the market become family.” 

Becker also believes the market’s growth and longevity reflect how people are more conscious of our food supply. She has observed that customers’ knowledge about what they want to eat, where they buy it, and what to feed their family has grown. “They are truly interested in where food comes from, and how it is handled and processed. They like to know the person that produces the product.”

When the market debuted, Mark Budnik, Angie Tornes’ spouse, was only marginally involved. “There wasn’t much thought about entertainment,” he recalled. “In 2002, the market only ran 12 weeks, first starting July 20th! Several committee members put together an entertainment and educational program. In 2003, the market purchased its own sound system and I got involved. As a former musician, I had some expertise, and I offered to assist the musicians with their set-up and sound.”  

He said the market expanded to 17 weeks in 2005. In 2007 Budnik became the entertainment coordinator, which included booking performers, maintaining and upgrading the sound system, managing promotion, setting up the performing area, and mixing the sound.

SSFM usually features a single performer or group. 

For a number of years he booked the same performers but broadened the selection beginning in 2009, while retaining John Stano and David HB Drake (“both Bay View guys”) in the annual lineup. He feels it’s beneficial to have new performers and a wide range of musical styles, with a few exceptions. He said the market isn’t an appropriate venue for rock bands, and out under the trees, they don’t have an adequate source of electrical power. 

“We run all the shows with 12-volt batteries and a power inverter. We sometimes stop the show, hopefully between songs, for about a minute, to switch batteries. It’s always amusing to the musicians and crowd.” Budnik said long-time Bay Viewer Jim Griffith, a master recording and sound engineer, as been real asset.

Griffith, who operated New Horizons sound studio in Milwaukee, is responsible for improving the sound quality with his expertise ranging from staging the microphones to mixing sound. “That makes everyone’s experience better, the musicians’ and the audience’s,” Budnik said. “He has added to the quality of the music.”

Griffith recorded the music and mixed sound for the SSFM music CD that was published in 2013.

Musician Paul Cebar performed at the June 23 South Shore Farmers market, while his father Anthony Cebar, 95, danced with Jonnie Guernsey. —Photo Katherine Keller

“I take pride in the fact that many market performers contact me year after year wanting to return,” Budnik said. “As the market crowds have steadily grown over the years, so have the regulars who come to shop, picnic, and be entertained. Some say the music is a big part of the South Shore Farmers Market, and of their summer Saturday mornings. My only goal is to present the best quality music I can with what I have. Walking among a smiling crowd on Saturday morning is the reward for me.”  

Husband and wife John Stano and Mary Cebar-Stano. Musician Stano will make his 13th appearance at the South Shore Farmers Market this summer. Cebar-Stano, a retired elementary teacher, is Paul Cebar’s sister. —Katherine Keller

Singer and songwriter John Stano has many market memories, as both a shopper and long-time performer at the SSFM. “The first South Shore Farmers Market, our son, Tony, was stroller-bound and was captivated by the market sights, sounds, and flavors. Not long after, he was enjoying spending his own money to buy small amounts of random vegetables. Sometimes he’d get paid in produce for running errands for the vendors like Dolly, Leroy, or the ‘Potato Lady,’” he said. “Then it was time for [our] Iron-Chef-home-version to figure out how to use garlic scapes, bitter melon, seven potatoes, or whatever. Tony made good friends, learned a lot about handling money, produce, and cooking, thanks to the market.” 

Stano noted that his scheduled market performance on Oct. 6 would be his “lucky 13.” He has performed more than any other musician to date. “I am surprised and honored. Playing for my family, friends, neighbors, and their dancing children at the South Shore Farmers Market has always been a memorable highlight of my summer.” Beatles tunes, he said, are what really get the little ones dancing.

She’s Unpaved Parking Lots, Planted a Paradise

July 2, 2018

By Sheila Julson


Christine Goldsworthy began gardening as a teenager while living “up north” in Florence, Wis., where she was surrounded by forest and the outdoors. She studied archeology and art at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. —Jennifer Kresse

How would Mother Nature do it? That is a question that Outpost Natural Foods employee and gardener Christine Goldsworthy often asks herself when considering garden design for three of Outpost’s four locations.

Goldsworthy, an employee at Outpost’s State Street location for 25 years, has been designing, planting, and maintaining the gardens at the stores, beginning with the State Street store in Wauwatosa, for close to 18 years. After her garden design was completed there, Outpost asked her to come up with a plan for the Capitol Drive location, and then for the Bay View store after it opened in 2005. She occasionally gardens at Outpost’s Mequon store, but due to its large rain garden and edible landscape, a landscape architect is primarily in charge of garden design and maintenance there.

Shoppers heading into the Bay View Outpost, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., see eye-catching yellow and purple irises and milkweed standing tall near hostas, purple Veronica, columbine, and dainty yellow creeping buttercup. Prairie fire and white crabapple trees shade lady’s mantle, salvia, and primrose. 

Sea holly

Near the entrance, eryngium, or sea holly, turns steely blue toward the end of June. “It’s in the rattlesnake master family and native to the Midwest,” Goldsworthy said. “It gets attention because it’s so unique.” When it is in bloom, she leaves information cards about it at the customer service desks because of the number of people who inquire about it.

She groups sage, chives, and winter savory, but food safety regulations prohibit their use by the store’s café. A large rose bush fans out on the wall near the outdoor seating area and there are three pear trees at the south end of the lot. The north end garden includes a monarch butterfly garden. In an island near the front doors, there is a path between the trees and plants. “That path was intentional,” Goldsworthy said. “I wanted to bring people to another spot.” She created a microhabitat where customers are momentarily encompassed by trees and flowers. She is gratified that the path is well traveled.

The pear trees were planted to honor Pam Menhert, Outpost’s longtime general manager.

Margaret Bert Mittelstadt, Outpost’s community relations director, said the pear tree was chosen because it is held in high regard in many cultures and religions and is said to represent salvation, comfort, and affection. The pear symbolizes abundance, the Christian cross, longevity, is associated with the Virgin Mary, and was sacred to Hera, queen of the heavens and Venus, goddess of love. “Pear trees used to be planted in celebration at the birth of girl babies,” she said. “If you saw a pear tree in your dreams, it meant new opportunities.”

An island near the entry to the store is like a mini park. Christine Goldsworthy created a microhabitat where customers are momentarily encompassed by trees and flowers when they travel the path through it. —Katherine Keller

A knack for gardening

Goldsworthy started gardening as a teenager while living “up north,” in Florence, Wis., near the Michigan border. “My sisters and I were surrounded by the woods and the outdoor world,” Goldsworthy said.

She moved to Milwaukee when she was 19 to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she studied archeology and art. She lived on the East Side during the 1980s and was inspired by a neighborhood movement called Wild Ones, which promoted replacing monoculture grass lawns with native plants.

Goldsworthy’s art studies have influenced her gardening style. “I really like groundcovers because of the textures and different variations. Flowers are gorgeous when they’re blooming, and they stand out, but they are so short-lived,” she said. “Groundcovers allow you to work low and add other higher stuff, working in different shapes and spaces, just like a painting or a sculpture.” She also likes incorporating groundcovers because they help keep weeds down.

Planning and maintaining

The gardening duties take up most of Goldsworthy’s work tasks during the spring and summer months. During winter, she works in various store departments at the State Street location. 

But during the gardening season, she primarily is responsible for all planting, weeding, and watering duties herself.

While establishing the State Street garden, trees and bushes were purchased, but most of the perennials came from Goldsworthy’s and others’ yards. The cactus and the yellow and light purple irises all came from coworkers’ yards,” she said. She also went to friends’ homes and dug up perennials. She brought wild daisies and groundcovers, such as Artemisia and wormwood, from her visits to Northern Wisconsin.

“I think there’s a lot of similarity of the plants at all the locations because as a garden grows, I dig up plants from one location and take them to another, so there’s no cost involved. I’m not buying any plants,” she said. “It’s interesting for me to go back and recollect where a lot of things came from. It’s a really nice way that gardens are built, by people sharing.”

Sometimes people approach Goldsworthy to talk about gardening, and she’s always open to sharing her knowledge. One tip she offers is to just do it. “And don’t take it personally if things don’t survive,” she added. “There are so many things that could go wrong, but the more you learn, (the more) you start noticing things like relationships between different insects, and the weather, and you become like that farmer who can taste and feel the soil. It takes a lot of time. But often when things don’t work out, there’s something else going on—it’s not just you!”

Goldsworthy has faced challenges designing and maintaining gardens that are primarily in or around parking lots. The winter snow and salt from the parking lot kill some plants. People occasionally let their cars idle, and heat from engines will harm the plants. “People walk on things,” she said. “Or people pull right up until they bump the curb and hit stuff.”

Limited soil depth in the areas around parking lots can also prevent plants from growing to their full stature. Goldsworthy said she will cut back some plants in fall, but she keeps certain things for winter wildlife. “It’s a selective process of what you choose to leave. Mother Nature doesn’t go in there and rake and remove stuff, so you balance everything to work with nature,” she said.

Daisies, irises, and Dusty Miller grace the entryway to Outpost in Wauwatosa at 70th and State streets. —Katherine Keller

A few years ago, there were ducks nesting at the State Street store. Goldsworthy has also seen bunnies. 

“A couple summers ago while I was working at State Street, a man who lives nearby approached me, and he wanted me to know that he had beehives. He said he “made sure the bees always came down to the store gardens,” Goldsworthy said, explaining that he thought he recognized his bees. “It was rewarding to hear that.” 

For Goldsworthy it’s not just about pretty flowers. It’s also learning about the interconnectivity of plants and soil and climate and the variables that often change from year to year. She is still learning “how things in the garden play out.” Why, for example, are there so many aphids one year but not another? What can she plant to attract the aphids to draw them away from an infested plant that she wants to protect? 

Goldsworthy delights in the creativity involved with gardening and seeing the plants grow and develop. “It’s hard when a favorite plant doesn’t make it through the winter,” she said, “but being outside and noticing these relationships, I’m always learning and adding things to the puzzle.”

In 2003, the State Street store was bestowed with the Mayor of Wauwatosa Beautification Award. Goldsworthy worked with the Wehr Nature Center to create a landscape that qualified and received its Native Habitat Certification. She also worked with Monarch Watch, a program of the Entomology Department of the University of Kansas, to provide milkweed plants, nectar sources, and shelter to sustain migrating Monarch butterflies. The Bay View garden is certified and registered by the organization as a Monarch Waystation.

Outpost Natural Foods, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in Bay View, 2004, soon after it purchased the former Kohl’s store, and before Christine Goldsworthy worked her landscaping magic. Courtesy Outpost Natural Foods

Outpost Natural Foods, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 2018. —Katherine Keller

SPOTTLIGHT — Downsizing

May 2, 2018

By Toni Spott

Toni Spott

Not only is it extremely stressful to either sell your home or buy a new one, but, oh yeah, you still have to pack and move everything, usually in a 30-day timeframe. Yes, that would be years of accumulation where you now need to decide what to keep and what to get rid of…in 30 days. Oh, the pain of the decision-making! Ugh! 

We’re not just talking material objects; we’re talking emotional baggage, as well. You have a few years, perhaps decades of history in your home, and now you need to part with it. You can sell or give away your extraneous stuff but the memories, that’s a different story. So much of what you have has a memory or two attached to it. You will need to file that away and then let go of the object. That takes time.

The key is to have someone with you who has no emotional ties to any of your stuff and who can help you make decisions and keep you on task. This could be a friend or a professional mover. Take photos of the items you are getting rid of, but have emotional ties to, so that you have something to hold on to. 

Like I advised in a previous column, make three piles. One: Keep, Two: For Charity, Three: To Be Tossed. Pretty simple. If you stick to this plan, your sorting and discarding will be so much less stressful. The hard part is sticking to it.

Selling your stuff can be time-consuming and challenging. Having a garage sale is a lot of work that can result in not a lot of money. Everyone else is doing the same thing these days—trying to getting rid of their stuff. No one wants any of our stuff anymore, especially our kids! Instead, put some of it in a consignment shop so someone else does the work for you and then you at least get something for the item, so it’s not a complete loss. Online places like eBay, like rummage sales, are time consuming and there is an upfront fee. Listing items and then shipping requires a lot of time, which you don’t have. And then there are the scammers. It isn’t common, but it happens.

My suggestion is to donate, donate, and donate! You can write if off and others benefit. 

Now when it comes to toxic items like paint and chemicals, be sure to research where you can drop it off materials like these so they don’t find their way to the landfill. In Milwaukee, start with the Project Clean & Green page on the Department of Public Works website.

You can do this! I believe in you! 

Here are some sites that you may find helpful:

HGTV: Should I Downsize My Home?

Dave Ramsey: Downsizing Your Home, 3 Money Benefits

Kiplinger: The Upside of Downsizing

Money Crashers: Nine Ways to Declutter & Downsize Your Home Effectively

City of Milwaukee Project Clean & Green

SPOTTLIGHT —What To Do When Mortgage Rates Begin Moving Up

April 2, 2018

By Toni Spott

Toni Spott

Rates are increasing and they will continue to increase as the year progresses.

Yes, they are going up, but the sky is not falling.

The economy has nearly made a full recovery in the past ten years since the Great Recession took its toll on the housing market.

What generally happens when rates rise is that there is less of a demand for housing, which triggers a downward trend in the price of homes.

But that’s not happening now. In the current housing market, supply is short and it has been for quite a while. Additionally, due to the historically low rates over the past decade, the new mortgage rate increases have not affected the price of housing. In fact, prices are still going up, along with demand. Sellers are not being negatively affected.

Who do the rate increases affect?

They will affect everyone who wants to own a home, however, it will be a double hit for the first time homebuyer. Just a quarter percent increase will make a huge difference in the monthly payment, relative to the amount of the down payment. So with that larger payment, first-time homebuyers will have less buying power as mortgage rates increase. They now may have to set their sights on a lower-priced home.

For those who want to sell their home and purchase another, they will now have a higher interest rate, as well. Their home-buying power will be affected just as it will be for first-time buyers. Odds are they currently have a mortgage with a 3 to 4 percent interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage. Yet rates continue to be historically low. So all things considered, it is still a good time to lock in on a rate, even though the new rates will be taken with a grain of salt.

Inflation is another reason rates go up. When the economy is good, workers are getting raises, etc., and that can stimulate an increase in consumer prices.

Things could be far worse. It could be 1981 when a mortgage could come with an 18 percent interest rate. So look at the current rate increases as a wake up call. If you haven’t refinanced recently, now is the time to do it, and if you are thinking about buying a new home, now’s the time to do it.

According to the website Mortgage Reports, in the middle of the 2007 economic boom, 30-year rates climbed close to 6.75 percent. During the 1999 boom, rates crept higher than 8 percent.

Mortgage Reports observes that mortgage rates could rise to 5 percent in 2018, if the current economic expansion continues.

Hoping for all the best for all of you.

Toni Spott Sustainable Agent, Keller Williams Realty;
Facebook: TheToniSpottTeam;

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