February 1, 2017
It’s the love month—and don’t you just love your home! Oh wait, you don’t own your own home?
Wouldn’t you just love to have a home that’s all yours?
Well it may be better to look for one earlier rather than later in the year. The two factors that would affect your monthly mortgage payment. Home prices and interest rates are both predicted to increase as the year evolves. Interest rates may increase significantly.
According to the National Association of Realtors, interest rates are expected to be at the lowest, 4.5 percent and at the highest 5 percent. The current rate is 4.125%. Interest rates can make a dramatic difference in your monthly mortgage payment and what you pay long term. It’s important to lock in a rate as soon as possible to avoid a higher mortgage payment. I believe having a fixed rate versus a variable rate in this current climate is a safer decision. The fluctuation of the markets and economic uncertainty associated with a new federal administration make locking into the current rate a wise decision. If you can lock in the current rate, it is guaranteed not to go up during the life of the loan. If you decide on a variable rate, that rate will fluctuate with the market and it’s been predicted that it will be raised a few times before the end of the year.
And for those of you who do own a home and have loved living in your home and are thinking of selling, now is the best time to do that. There is no more “spring” market.
What exactly is a “spring market?” It was always thought that one should wait until the spring market in order to get the best deal on a home whether buying or selling. Now, not so much. Now that buyers are online 24/7, 365 days a year, any type of seasonal market has been eliminated, with one exception.
As soon as the first of January arrived, buyers were out fast and furious this year looking for a new home. There is always that hope of a rebirth at the beginning of the new year, a renewal of goals and aspirations. Home buying is no different. With the elimination of the seasonal market, the minute the New Year arrives, buyers are on the look out hoping to find “their home” before anyone else gets their hands on it.
So if you list your home sooner in the year you will have much less competition. Because so many sellers feel they need to wait for the spring market, they all list their homes at the same time and become each other’s competition, making it difficult to get the best price for their home. It’s a buyer’s dream!
Consider adding a personal touch. If you are a seller getting ready to go on the market, write a letter to your future buyers on why you loved your home so much. What made you buy the home? What do you love about your neighborhood, the street you live on and your neighbors? Buying a home is an emotional time for everyone, buyers and sellers alike, so the more you can appeal to what the other is looking for, the happier everyone will be.
Demand for Bay View remain strong and it is competitive. I’m finding that buyers are still in love with the idea of finding a home in Bay View! They can’t get enough of our great community! Buyers are aware of all the great things that Bay View has to offer that other communities don’t have.
Bay View Real Estate by the Numbers
136: Homes sold in the past four months
$118.37: The average selling price per square foot
51: Average days on the market
93: Homes on the market
23: Homes on the market with accepted offers
December 1, 2016
By Toni Spott
Thank you for joining me for my inaugural real estate column. This monthly column will be all about real estate and how it applies to Bay View. The real estate market can be a fickle thing. It goes up; it goes down. It’s usually up when you are trying to buy and it will go down when you are trying to sell. Murphy’s Law, right?
Currently, we are in a seller’s market phase in Bay View because there is such a shortage of homes for sale. There are also a lot of frustrated buyers. As soon when a home comes on the market, the seller receives an offer the first day. But, of course, not your offer.
Listings seem to vanish within days in Bay View. That is, if the home is priced right.
Let’s take a look at that.
If a home has been on the market for an extended period of time and it’s a great home with new updates, etc., but isn’t selling, it’s because the price isn’t right.
If it’s in need of a total makeover, and there is no interest, again, it’s the wrong price. A home will not sell until it is priced right. So what should you do to be smart and ready in a tight market like this?
Make sure you have a lender who has pre-approved you, then find a good agent to represent you. You want to find someone who will educate you about the home buying process and what you need to do to purchase a home.
They should also inform you about the market itself. What is listed in your price range, in the area you are looking, and what are those homes selling for? Remember, a listing price is only the asking price. The seller may indeed sell it for that listed price or for over or under it.
Again, the market sets the price when it comes to a home sale, not the seller, not their friends or family, and not what they paid for it. It is the price the buyer pays for a home that determines the final price.
If you, as a buyer, have done your homework, you should be able to make smart decisions that work in your best interest. Be cognizant of the current market in the area where you want to buy. Know what homes are selling for.
As a seller, you should make sure you are working with a knowledgeable, honest, proactive agent who knows the market in the area where the home is listed. Make sure the agent does more than just put a sign in the yard. Even in this seller’s market, your home needs stellar marketing.
Also, never assume it will sell right away. A good agent should actively market and promote your home until it is sold or until all the contingencies are exhausted.
Email me anytime with any questions you may have.
September 1, 2016
By Sheila Julson
Long-time Bay View residents can attest to their neighborhood’s growth from a close-knit, somewhat sleepy blue-collar community to a haven for young professionals, artisans, musicians, and foodies.
Despite its new hip status, the community retains its respect for its roots and history and a know-your-neighbor ambiance.
It’s only natural then, that “new Bay View” has embraced Bay View Art in the Park, a premier fine arts and craft fair that strives to offer diverse and affordable paintings, prints, jewelry, ceramics, glassware, photography, sculpture, metal, and fiber arts.
The fair is held the second Saturday each month in Humboldt Park, May through September.
Local ceramics artist Brian Breider founded Bay View Art in the Park. It debuted the summer of 2014 at Zillman Park on the north end of Kinnickinnic Avenue.
By offering affordable fine art, Breider aimed to fill a market niche without competing with other local craft fairs.
Zillman Park was originally chosen because it was an underutilized space, Breider said. During the fair’s first two seasons, he staged the event every Saturday throughout the summer, rather than once a month. It was an experiment to see if the community would support a weekly art event, especially during Wisconsin’s short summer season filled with festivals, concerts, and events.
In February, Breider told the Compass he felt the construction planned for the Faust Music site on Kinnickinnic and Ward, across the street from Zillman Park, would not be advantageous for the event, the artisans, or its patrons. As such, he decided to find a new venue. He selected Humboldt Park.
The new once-per-month schedule and the move to Humboldt Park appear to have benefited everyone. “Ultimately the artisans decide, and without the artisans there is no event, so I definitely go by their feedback and their needs,” Breider said. “The artisans really like this space, and it’s easy to load and unload. The patrons like it as well, but the focus is first and foremost on the community of artisans. If they’re happy, I’m happy, so we’re hoping we can stay there.”
Breider said he rotates the vendors and that about 36 are present each month. Some sign on for the whole season, while others for one or two dates, an approach that he said allows for a good rotation schedule.
Breider has received compliments on the diversity of vendors. He doesn’t limit the number of artisans who offer the same medium or style but he strives to find a mix of student artisans, up-and-coming artisans, and established artisans. There is a waiting list, he said.
Admission is free so sponsorship dollars cover advertising costs, Breider’s largest expense. Revenue generated by vendors who rent a 10-foot by 10-foot space covers other expenses such as park fees and insurance.
Breider said that some have suggested he invite food trucks but he rejected the idea because he prefers to keep the event focused on art. He also values his partnership with St. Francis Brewing, the vendor who operates the Humboldt Park Beer Garden, and does not want to bring in food or beverage vendors that might compete with the brewery.
Making fine art affordable has been the Breider’s mission since inception. “We don’t have a price cap and some artisans have sold some higher ticket items valued at several hundred dollars, but we just ask that our artisans have a nice range so the art is accessible for everybody,” he said.
“We don’t compete too much with other craft fairs like Makers Market. We want to work together. There’s no shortage of creative people in Milwaukee, but we have to choose artisans that we think will bring diversity to our festival,” Breider added.
Community nonprofits offer art-related, hands-on activities for children and adults to participate in during each of the monthly events. The final date of the 2016 season is Saturday, Sept. 10 from 11am to 5pm. Sponsors Sparrow Collective and Walker’s Point Center for the Arts will offer a free children’s art workshop.
Will the event remain in Humboldt Park in 2017? Breider said it comes down to whether fees charged by Milwaukee County Parks for the use of garbage cans and other facilities will remain affordable. He noted that he plans to retain the once-per-month schedule.
The final event of the 2016 season is Saturday, Sept. 10.
More info: bvartinthepark.com.
Sheila Julson, who grew up in Bay View, is a regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.
September 1, 2016
A sign on a window of Cream City Swirl, 2663 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., announced that the business is closed and for sale.
Susan Nolan opened her business April 20, 2014, selling frozen yogurt, crepes, and gelato. She did not immediately respond to a Compass request for comment.
September 1, 2016
The 2016 Bay View Bash will kick off with the first Dash to the Bash 5K run and 1.5-mile walk. The Dash was organized and is presented by Wild Workouts and Wellness. The 12th Annual Bay View Bash will be held Sept. 17.
The run/walk begins at 10:30am. Dash registration is open from 9am to 10am. Wild Workout team coaches will lead a warm up at 10:15am. The run starts at 10:30am and the walk at 10:35am.
The course starts outside of Sven’s Café on the corner of Russell Avenue and Lenox Street, passes through the neighborhood on the west side of Kinnickinnic Avenue, and through Humboldt Park.
Proceeds will benefit the Bay View Bash Fund through the Bay View Community Fund.
More info: bestbayviewbootcamp.com/dash-to-the-bash
September 1, 2016
By Katherine Keller
After a 12-year stint at the Hide House in Bay View, Tim Schneider has moved his motorcycle repair business to South Milwaukee. He opened for business at the new location in the last week of August.
His business, The Shop, specializes in repairing and rebuilding Japanese and European motorcycles, including vintage models. When he began, he only accepted non-American bikes because he saw there was a niche in the local market. Since then, he’s expanded and now accepts American-made bikes but only those made in 1930s and years prior.
Schneider is independent, not tied to any bike manufacturer.
He opened his business in 1999 on Land Place near Brady Street and moved to the Hide House in January 2003.
Schneider purchased the 5,000-square-foot building located at 1905 13th Avenue. He said he’d been looking for a new location “pretty aggressively for the past two years, or so.”
He was motivated by a desire to invest in a building because of the long-term financial security it offered him, now and in retirement.
He purchased the property from Charles Wink, who operated CJ’s Auto Works in the building since 1973 or 1974, according to Wink’s son Charlie. He said that Charles himself purchased the building from his grandfather who had operated a small foundry in the building that dates from the 1920s.
“The Hide House property is great and it was well-suited at first, but it’s divided into so many sections and laid out awkwardly. The owner (Sig Strautmanis/General Capital Group) and the rest are great and they always helped me out but I had to start thinking about long-term security. They knew I was looking for a building.” Owning the building provided him with that and secured what he said is a business that keeps growing and thriving.
Schneider will occupy the majority of the building, 4,000 square feet. The existing tenant operates an auto body business and will remain in the building. “The financing went through very quickly,” said Schneider. His offer was buoyed by the income generated by the section of the building that is leased. “The tenant basically paid the mortgage,” he said.
Schneider said his bank required a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment audit to identify potential liability such as an underground fuel storage tank or contaminated soil. The audit cleared the way for financing. “It came up clean,” Schneider said. “It was on the market for quite a long time. I got a good deal.”
He spent three months cleaning and prepping the nearly 100-year-old brick building. “It was cheap and it was a dump. The building was really solid. It just needed a little TLC. Sweat equity, that’s the keyword here,” he said.
The new location permitted Schneider to expand his retail operation that he is set up on the second floor above his shop. At the Hide House, his retail inventory was limited. He sold oil filters and batteries and similar items, but he’s adding apparel to the retail line to include jackets, helmets, and gloves.
August 1, 2016
By Christopher Miller
I talked with him because of his long-standing commitment to civil rights equality, which includes his advocacy for transportation alternatives including robust public transportation and a bike lane on the Hoan Bridge.
The result is a distinct perspective on where we are, and how we might both respond to change and create spaces where neighbors can be heard.
Our conversation covered a great deal of territory, but three main concepts emerged.
Value of Complete Community
I define a community in general as the connections between individuals and groups. In the case of a neighborhood, it is the connections between people who share a space, whether as residents, businesses, patrons, visitors, or supporters.
Bill, who moved to Bay View in 1984, is convinced that community is undervalued by the mainstream of America’s political and economic system.
We frequently hear that folks who are unable to afford increasing housing costs or who cannot find work should just move somewhere else. Bill was quick to point out that a focus on money ignores the value of community if moving elsewhere eliminates friends and family support networks.
Rising rent and/or property taxes can do more than create budget pressures; they can rip a hole in a family and tear at the connections that make a community a living, breathing organism. What kind of system, he asks, tells people that their friends and family are something to be left behind in the face of rising prices?
A related but different challenge for a number of long-time Bay View residents is the affordability of remaining in place after retirement or as one ages. Bill noted that there is almost no provision made so that seniors are able to remain in the neighborhood throughout their entire lives and that attempts to produce senior or affordable housing are often met with resistance in Bay View.
While there is some public housing in Bay View, it is limited and waitlisted. Since so few of Bay View’s homes are accessible to the elderly, and the vast majority of housing is market rate, eventually many folks will “age out” of Bay View and must leave behind the friends, family and neighbors they’ve known for a lifetime if they seek or need heightened care or below-market rate housing.
A healthy community would at the very least offer ways for people of all ages to stay in place.
Accomplishing this goal would require major changes. First, the community would need to embrace housing (whether built or refurbished) that is specifically designed for and affordable to seniors. Secondly, the city and state might consider new property taxation policies to deal with the fact that, even in our present political environment, tax bills increase faster than social security benefits.
We Live in a Bubble
The Bay View community lives in a bubble of relative safety, stability, and desirability. Its long-term success and vibrancy depends on working to assist other neighborhoods and help them grow as well. Bill’s message on this front was very clear.
The very qualities that make Bay View desirable — safety, walkability, good housing stock, proximity to the lake, parks, transportation — are what generate the demand that leads to increased taxes, housing prices, and rent.
As long as other neighborhoods remain undervalued or underserved, the cost of living pressure on Bay View will continue to grow because the things it offers are, or are perceived to be, in short supply in Milwaukee. It could be said that what’s bad for other neighborhoods is also bad for Bay View. In other words, one way to help relieve price pressure on Bay View is to ensure that safety, stability, and city services are spread equitably across the city.
Demand will create market pressure and prices will rise, but the result will push out those with lower incomes as well as those who need housing options other than the available.
The solutions come through connections. That involves joining with people across the entire city to demand higher-quality public services such as police, schools, and parks rather than focusing exclusively on what happens in Bay View. Bill philosophically summarized this challenge, “Some people need help, so if we want to be good neighbors, we should help them.”
Three Sides To Every Story, Not Two
Bill and I talked about how the current structure of our public discourse was extraordinarily problematic. Focused on the polarizing “two sides” narrative and trapped in a journalistic model that presents “both sides” as if they are equivalent, our public debates simply do not reflect most people’s lived experiences. Instead this binary approach reflects and fosters increased divisions along ideological lines but also makes cooperation seem less possible than it actually is. He highlighted the importance of building bridges to your “opponents” that sometimes includes agreeing to decisions that may not maximize your group’s self-interest.
While he is convinced that the local, state, and national political culture has become more divisive and negative over the past 20 years, and may well get even worse, I sense Bill possesses a belief in the power of facts, rational argument, and personal connections to break out of the “two sides straightjacket” that characterizes so many of our conversations, particularly those hyper-polarized online slugfests on social media.
At the same time, he was very aware that people often make decisions based on their emotions. He noted that we must take the time to understand each other’s stories in order to work together. Understanding one another’s stories provides opportunities to find common ground.
The overarching message that I took from our conversation was that communities are ultimately composed of people and the connections between them. A community needs shared values to thrive, and a community made up of people who value each other will have distinctly different conversations than a community made up of individuals lined up on opposing sides of this or that issue. Whether you agree with Bill’s politics or his policy suggestions, I’d hope that we all agree that valuing each other is a baseline expectation of a healthy, vibrant community.
Some years have passed since 2003 when Bill Sell helped found BVNA but he remains an active member.
Disclaimer: Christopher Miller is the current president of Bay View Neighborhood Association.
Christopher Miller has lived in Bay View since 2010 and has been on the board of the Bay View Neighborhood Association, working to connect neighbors for a better Bay View, since 2013. Contact him at BuildABetterBV@bayviewcompass.com.
August 1, 2016
Set against the majestic backdrop of Lake Michigan, South Shore Farmers Market has been a favorite Saturday morning social spot and stop for fresh local produce and prepared food. This year, the market’s 17th season, there are new vendors, along with some long-time favorites.
Angie Tornes, a SSFM committee member and one of the market’s original founders, said there are 43 vendors this year selling produce, flowers, coffee, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, and prepared artisan foods.
New this year is Happy Dough Lucky, a doughnut vendor, Pete’s Pops, maker of frozen fruit confections, and Ernie’s Popcorn.
Ernie’s takes the place of Cowboy Kettle Corn, best known for its proprietor and barker Doug Gutenkunst, who prepared batches of kettle corn in a large cast iron pan. His enthusiastic, “Yee-haw, kettle corn!” was bellowed to the clanging accompaniment of a chuck wagon triangle. Tornes said Gutenkunst ended his contract this year and added that she recommends Ernie’s.
Since the market began, organizers have stuck to their decision to focus on vendors that provide food products and to exclude craft vendors like those who sell soap or art, for example. The committee also limits the number of vendors selling the same product to prevent market saturation.
Tornes said that in the second half of the season the market offers a multitude of vegetables and fruit, baked goods, beef, bison, chicken, and eggs. Rushing Waters Fisheries, a trout farm in Palmyra, Wis., sells trout and fish-based spreads.
“We also have some vendors selling unusual veggies, garlic scapes, and things you can’t find everywhere,” Tornes said. The market features several farmers that grow using organic methods. There are also cheese and coffee vendors.
“Rocket Baby was new to the market last year and they were incredibly popular,” Tornes said. They’re back again this year offering baked goods.
Other long-time favorites include River Valley Ranch & Kitchens, selling specialty mushrooms and LOTFOTL who sells produce (Live Off the Fat of the Land). Wild Flour Bakery is another favorite and has been a vendor since the market’s first season. St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care sells homemade jelly and butters and also offers homemade bug repellent and some wellness items. It is the only vendor permitted to sell products that are neither food nor flowers. Tornes said the toiletries are just a small part of what St. Ann offers at SSFM and that they were grandfathered in so they could sell what is normally not allowed.
To help improve pedestrian flow, market a new layout was designed. “We relocated several of the vendors away from an area that was really getting pounded down by foot traffic,” she said. “We rearranged vendors to ease exceptionally long lines that impacted others, giving the park a chance to breathe.”
In July market organizers performed a count during a market day and logged 1,200 attendees by 10am. Many young families attend. Parents tell Tornes that their children can hardly wait to get out the door on Saturday mornings to get to the market and see their friends. “The parents enjoy being with each other, too,” she said.
SSFM is within walking and cycling distance for many in Bay View, who are often seen walking or riding from the park with bags overflowing with leafy greens and flowers. Tornes said she also talks to many people who live outside of Bay View who regularly attend.
Tornes’ husband Mark Budnik lines up the musicians and entertainers. The popular Fox & Branch duo is booked for August. They perform children’s folk and family songs.
Other highlights include the Philomusica String Quartet and the Bay View Middle & High School Marching Band. The August through October schedule offers an eclectic mix of jazz, Native American sounds, blues, and Americana.
Tornes and other market volunteers have known some of those who attend the market since they were infants and children when the market began 17 years ago. Some are now old enough for internships at the market and others have graduated from high school or college. The interns help setting up and taking down tables and tents.
This year Brigid Globenski is chair of the volunteer 10-member SSFM committee. Ann Hippensteel and Chad VanDierendonck are the market managers.
The South Shore Farmers Market is held each Saturday from 8am to Noon. It runs through October 15 in South Shore Park.
2016 South Shore Farmers Market Vendors
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.
Clock Shadow Creamery
Cream City Swirl
East Side Ovens
Flower Petal Farm
Happy Dough Lucky
Heritage Flower Farm
Madame J’s Sticky Fingers Jams & Jellies
Mai Lee’s Market
Nye’s Big Sky
River Valley Ranch
Rocket Baby Bakery
Rushing Waters Fisheries
St. Ann’s Center for Intergenerational
Sunflower Ridge Farms
West Allis Cheese & Sausage
Wild Flour Bakery
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.
August 1, 2016
By Katherine Keller
The 2016 South Shore Frolics presented by the Bay View Lions was deemed a success.
Turnout was good at the three-day festival that ran Friday through Sunday, July 15-17, said Lions member Dave Reszel, one of the members of the Frolics organizers who also serves as the event’s emcee.
The attendance on Friday was down slightly compared to last year, as were food and beverage sales. Reszel conjectured that might have been caused by uncertainty surrounding the event.
Erroneous commentary about the status of the 2016 Frolics circulated on social media after the local media reported that the fireworks’ grand finale would be banned this year. Some misinformed Facebook users complained that ‘fireworks had been canceled’ entirely, while others lamented the ‘cancelation of the festival.’
Reszel said that the hill and area beneath were packed Saturday and that Sunday was “OK, overall.”
The Lions were not able to provide 2016 attendance figures. In previous years they relied on sheriff or police officials to take and report attendance. Reszel said the Lions didn’t receive a report this year.
The profitability of the festival has not been determined because there are “still too many outstanding payables and receivables,” Reszel said.
A vote taken at the May 24 public meeting hosted by District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski to discuss 2016 Frolics’ issues resulted in an ad hoc decision to prohibit the traditional Friday and Saturday night fireworks’ finale known as Blow Up the Beach. Some residents who live near the park objected to the powerful explosions that characterize the finale.
“Per the Milwaukee County Parks’ restriction, Bartolotta did not begin the Friday and Saturday grand finales with the signature Blow Up the Beach firework — the successive and progressively louder finale opener,” Reszel said.
“Since this was the only restriction, we did have other outstanding choreographed groundworks (displays), including the American flag at the end for our salute to all service men and women, past and present, and the usual superlative aerial show. Overall, no one in attendance was disappointed in the fireworks show. In fact I heard dozens of positive comments. While we did not blow up the beach, we did shake the lake.”
The goal of the petition (drive) before and during the Frolics was to gather signatures of those who wished to “keep the Frolics fireworks as they always have been including the grand finales,” he said.
Zielinski discounted the value of a petition concerning forthcoming decisions about future Frolics’ fireworks. “Petitions don’t count. Letters, direct contact by phone calls and email are more persuasive and reliable,” he said.
He noted that when presented at Milwaukee Common Council Licenses Committee hearings, petitions are not considered. “They are considered hearsay,” he said.
Zielinski chairs the Licenses Committee.
Reszel remains buoyed by public support. “We received tremendous verbal support from elected city and state representatives who were present during the Frolics weekend,” he said. “That was great to receive, and to use, if necessary, at some point in the future. The media, especially TV, gave our event outstanding publicity as well as balanced coverage before and during the event.”
A community meeting is being planned to discuss the 2016 Frolics and would include city, county, and county parks officials. “We plan to invite the Bartolotta Fireworks executives, possibly a civil engineering firm, and obviously as many of those supporters that signed our petition before, during and after the Frolics,” Reszel said
Zielinski said a public meeting to review the 2016 Frolics would be held in September or
August 1, 2016
It’s rare that Chill on the Hill is ever canceled. But when it is, it doesn’t deter some of the concert series’ most ardent fans.
Several years ago Patty Pritchard Thompson, one of Chill’s organizers, made a tough decision to cancel the American Legion Band’s performance because of extreme heat.
But three devoted fans decided to stay and enjoy an evening under the stars. They helped out, acting as messengers and informing people who arrived after Thompson’s announcement of the cancelation.
“We didn’t care that the show wasn’t going on,” said Mary Peplinski. “We told people, sorry, there’s no concert tonight. Then they’d ask, well, why are you still sitting here? We said, ‘We want to finish our wine!’”
Peplinski is a member of the trio of women known as the Ladies of the Shade. Her pals are Eileen Allen and June May (who was born in July).
The Ladies of the Shade are longtime fans of Chill On the Hill, the summer concert series in Humboldt Park that is a project of the Bay View Neighborhood Association.
The ladies have rarely missed a Chill performance since the series began 12 years ago. They are not deterred whether the evening brings rain or shine, extreme heat or cold.
“Does Chill on the Hill have to live up to its name?” asks Allen. “Sometimes, during unseasonably cool nights early in the season.”
The ladies stay prepared, keeping coats, umbrellas, and other gear in the car.
While the women enjoy the music and appreciate the diverse and quality acts on stage each week, the Ladies of the Shade say it’s more about the socializing, camaraderie, and enjoyment of the short Milwaukee summers. They also regularly attend Boerner Botanical Gardens concerts in Whitnall Park and the biweekly Wednesday summer concerts at Milton Vretenar Municipal Park in St. Francis.
“We like the people watching,” said Peplinski.
“The people and dog watching,” said Allen. She regularly brings hot dogs for Duke, a Redbone Coonhound whose owner is one of the many people they have befriended over the years.
Their favorite spot is under a large oak tree just west of the stage. Until three years ago or so, they favored a spot under a tree toward the top of the hill but that tree was removed after lightening damage. “But this tree is satisfactory,” Peplinski joked while gesturing toward their new tree.
Given the growing popularity of Chill, Peplinski said now they arrive by 5pm every week to claim their spot. Even with careful planning and early bird arrival, there have been some rare occasions that their spot was taken.
Peplinski, a retired room attendant and laundry supervisor at the former Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel, lives in the Garden District and is neighbors with Allen. More than a decade ago when they first heard about the start up of the new Chill on the Hill concert series, they decided to check it out.
There they met May who formerly worked in the South Division High School office. She frequently passed them as she walked up the hill with her cane. “We’d see her every week and talk to her,” Peplinski said.
“Then one day,” May recalled, “I was mad because someone had moved my chair. I was ready to leave but they invited me to join them.”
Many people stop to say hello to the Ladies of the Shade each week and even share a bottle of wine. They’ve seen babies grow, students graduate, and milestones reached by others among those they’ve grown to know over the years. May said she sees former students from South Division.
The Ladies observed how Chill has grown from humble beginnings into a premier music series. “We used to win more raffles in the early days before Chill got so busy,” Peplinski noted.
When summer winds down and Chill pulls the curtains until next season, the Ladies of the Shade take it easy, sometimes swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Pulaski Pool.
“But I walk through the park in fall and think, pretty soon, Chill will start again,” Peplinski said.
Sheila Julson is a regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.
July 5, 2016
The following interview was conducted with District 14 Ald. Zielinski by the Compass on June 29 about five hours after 83-year-old Christa Pittman was fatally injured. She was struck about 11:30am by a pick-up truck when she was crossing the street at the intersection of Howell and Lincoln avenues. Authorities ruled her death an accident. Pittman died of blunt force injuries to her head and neck, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office.
Will this pedestrian fatality today make you more sensitive to residents’ call for safer conditions in Bay View for pedestrians?
I am going to continue to be as sensitive as I’ve been. We’ve done an enormous amount of work to address safety and pedestrian issues.
I am sensitive to resident calls for more traffic calming. I introduced a resolution calling for the state to authorize us to install surveillance cameras with radar guns so that people who exceed the speed limit get tickets in the mail. That will cause these drivers to pay more attention, follow the rules of the road and reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again. I testified before a committee in Madison but it wasn’t approved.
When did you introduce it?
About six years ago, I think.
I don’t know what could have been done here. She had the signal, she was in the crosswalk. If you have a driver who is going to violate the rules and hit her…what do you think could be done?
What happened to your effort a year ago or so to make Kinnickinnic safer for pedestrians?
Milwaukee Police Department said they would do it on their own. They had some grant money. Police Captain Rowe didn’t tell me specifics but she said they’re going to do it as well, when I’m not out there.
To do what?
Educate people about the rules of the road. [Zielinski contacted the Compass to clarify this point. He said he plans to set up traffic education events that he will stage in Bay View for the benefit of residents and those who drive through the neighborhood. They are to take place this year.]
Do you think this tragic fatality will help ensure success for those at Parkside School and Downtown Montessori who are trying to get more traffic control on Howell between Lincoln and Oklahoma?
I have to talk to traffic engineers at the DPW (Dept. of Public Works). There are some things that people request and want that are going to make the situation more dangerous or cause more problems. So we have to balance that. [But] this had nothing to do with what the city could have done to make this safer. The crosswalk lanes are clearly painted. She had the right of way. I don’t know what could have been done.
How about increasing speed and traffic law enforcement on Bay View’s busiest streets and intersections where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic?
That’s why security cameras with radar guns are so important. The police tell me their first priority is to catch criminals. So what I’ve done is to introduce budget amendments to have more cops than what was proposed and supported by the mayor. That got voted down by the council, so it wasn’t supported by the mayor. If we’ve got more cops, we’d have more cops on the street, more resources to dedicate to this…I plan on doing that again, depending on how much the mayor is proposing (in the next budget), to get more cops on the street.
What else have you done?
People who live near Smith Street and Howell Avenue told me people were parking too close to the end of the block (making it difficult to cross Howell at Smith). Their line of vision was harmed. I had the traffic engineers study it and they recommended putting signs up not letting people park so close to the intersection. That was about a year ago.
Did the signs go up?
Yes. We got that done. The neighbors wanted that. So we moved the parking back so there was a better line of vision.
As you see, I’ve been very proactive about this. Let me tell you right now, I’ve been as aggressive — I’ve been as aggressive as anybody addressing these issues — by number one, continually fighting for more cops so we get more officers to enforce the rules of the road. I introduced legislation that got voted down, so number one, we need more cops to enforce traffic laws.
Number two, I came up with a creative plan to get surveillance cameras with radar guns to issue tickets in the mail. If everybody knows if they violate the speed limit they’re going to get a ticket in the mail, they’re going to be more careful when they drive, thereby reducing the likelihood of fatalities taking place like the one we saw today.
I got speed bumps built all over the district as well as other traffic calming measures. At Clement Avenue School, I got the bump outs built. At Sixth and Hayes, in another part of the district, I got bump outs over there. So we’ve been very active and proactive on dealing with these erratic driving issues.
As you can see, I’m here on the scene because of the seriousness. I came down to talk with people about these issues. The one thing I want to stress is this fatality was not the result of the city not taking some sort of precautionary measures.
[At this point in the interview, Ald. Zielinski paused to call Keith Broadnax, manager of the city’s Legislative Reference Bureau, and left a voice message asking him to draft a measure, similar to the one that Zielinski introduced in the past, to introduce a resolution calling on the state to allow the city of Milwaukee to install surveillance cameras with radar guns.]
Maybe we can use this fatality as an impetus…it will maybe get something done. All of my colleagues are complaining. We’re bombarded by complaints about speeding from constituents saying, what are you doing?
Every year these motorists are becoming more and more erratic and increase the risk of these types of fatalities like we had today. I want to make clear, she had the right of way. What could have been done?! The driver made a left hand turn and hit her in the crosswalk.
City to test innovative tree-planting system in Bay View Trees, flowers, and gateway highlight BID’s streetscape plans
July 5, 2016
By Sheila Julson
Trees, flowers, and gateway highlight BID’s streetscape plans
The Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District, BID #44, has set lofty streetscape goals for the second half of 2016. Flowers, gateway signage, trees, and greenspace improvements are on the agenda.
Mary Ellen O’Donnell, BID board member and chair of the streetscape committee, said the BID’s most ambitious project is planting about 30 trees on Kinnickinnic Avenue.
The board is partnering with the city of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District (MMSD) for the project.
The new trees will be planted by incorporating an underground modular system known as the Silva Cell system produced by the company DeepRoot Green Infrastructure. This underground structure provides a substrate that promotes root growth and support for the growth of large trees, but also stormwater management.
Bay View will be the first neighborhood in the city to use the Silva Cell system. “The city contacted us last year and asked if we’d be willing to work with them to plant the trees along KK as part of this pilot program,” O’Donnell said. “The reason we were chosen is because KK is pretty much all cement and is a high density area. We, of course, told them absolutely.”
Silva Cells are designed specifically for dense urban areas where there’s no tree border or grassy area between the curb and sidewalk, which prevents traditional tree planting, said Kim Kujoth, a DPW environmental policy analyst.
How It Works
In a natural environment, a forest, for example, trees grow in soil that is lightly compacted. That soil provides space for the roots to spread and to access adequate water and nutrients. By contrast, trees planted in cities along roads and sidewalks are forced to grow in compacted soil. Engineering requirements imposed by cities require the compaction to support the weight of buildings and roads/traffic.
The Silva Cell is basically an underground structure that makes it possible for heavily compacted soil to be replaced with “lightly-compacted soil or bio-retention soil.” The new non-compacted soil provides a healthy environment for tree growth by providing contiguous soil that is ideal for root growth. Additionally, the cell system acts as a stormwater management system by intercepting and absorbing runoff from the sidewalk, roads, and adjacent buildings.
Before the cell system can be installed, the sidewalk must be removed and soil excavated. The vertical components of modular structure transfer weight from above ground, down through the new non-compacted soil, to the compacted soil beneath, known as the sub-base. The horizontal element at the top of the cells supports the pavement above. The system is installed around underground utilities.
The information above was provided in a video created by DeepRoot Infrastructure. Watch it: goo.gl/ndgUrS
“Our project goals are multifold: add a much needed tree canopy to Kinnickinnic Avenue, manage stormwater onsite, pilot new technology and evaluate (its) performance for future use, create value on KK, and enhance (other) streetscaping improvements by the Kinnickinnic Avenue BID,” Kujoth said.
“We were aware that there was a desire for added greening in the neighborhood, so we decided to try the Silva Cell system [in Bay View] first,” Kujoth said. “It’s a good fit for the neighborhood, as it’s an area that is more environmentally conscious.”
Property owners adjacent to the new trees will not bear any of the costs nor will the BID. The $332,079 project will be supported by MMSD with a $110,000 Green Infrastructure Partnership Program grant and another, separate $112,079 MMSD Green Solution Fund grant, plus a $110,000 City-Match grant.
“Many grants will require the person or entity receiving the grant to pay a portion of the project’s cost,” said Ald. Tony Zielinski, whose district includes the KK BID. “The portion that is not paid by the grant is called the Match or City-Match. The amount of the match can vary from grant to grant and typically can be anywhere from 10 to 50 percent.
“In regards to the stormwater tree project along Kinnickinnic Avenue, the BID is receiving a grant from MMSD that requires a 50 percent match from the city. MMSD is contributing $110,000 and the city will match that with $110,000. When the city accepted the MMSD grant through the Common Council, we identified the source for the City-Match. These funds are coming from the Sewer Maintenance Fund’s Water Quality account. The other MMSD grant we received for the stormwater trees project did not require a City-Match.”
Kujoth said 23 trees will be planted by employing Silva Cells at eight sites and that up to seven additional trees will be planted in existing greenspaces using traditional methods.
“Based on concerns from property owners that trees could block signage, Forestry will plant more narrow-crown tree species to limit sight obstructions.” The four tree cultivars are Autumn Blaze Maple, Cleveland Select Pear (non-fruit bearing), Japanese Tree Lilac (Ivory Silk), and New Horizon Elm. These varieties grow straighter with a narrower canopy, unlike trees in the city’s older canopy, thereby reducing the possibility of obstructions. Kujoth said that Silva Cells have been used extensively in other part of the United States and worldwide.
The trees will be planted in groups of two to three, in eight locations along KK from Becher Street to Morgan Avenue, plus five on the median on Oklahoma Avenue just west of Kinnickinnic. Planting is to be completed by late September. The BID recommended locations for the trees and reached out the property and business owners located near the planting areas.
O’Donnell said it was important to note that the location of the trees was determined by city engineers for optimal environmental impact.
The city awarded the project contract to Front Range Environmental, based in McHenry, Ill.
“KK can definitely use more trees, so we’re happy about that,” O’Donnell said. “When we did the streetscape survey, the general input from residents and commercial property owners was that we needed more green on KK. This feeds that particular want.”
Locations of Tree Plantings
Kinnickinnic & Linus (Razor Barber Shop)
Kinnickinnic & Russell
(Empty lot between BMO and Herman Street)
Kinnickinnic & Herman
(North Side of former Bella’s building)
Kinnickinnic & California (Outpost)
Kinnickinnic & Linebarger (Cousins)
Kinnickinnic & Rusk (Pastiche and Blackbird)
Kinnickinnic & Oklahoma (Median)
Location Eight: Kinnickinnic & Vollmer (Landmark Restaurant, State Farm)
Other Streetscaping Plans
O’Donnell expressed excitement about the BID’s flower program. Like last year, 60 hanging baskets with assorted flowers have been placed on streetlight poles along the BID, between Becher Street and Morgan Avenue. This year the BID worked with Custom Grown Greenhouses. The company was hired to design and maintain the flower baskets. Custom Grown was chosen because it could provide comprehensive service including watering and basket care. Last year the BID hired a vendor to create the baskets and another to water and maintain them.
The BID also owns 18 standing planters that were purchased earlier in the BID’s history. They are located between Russell Avenue and Ward Street primarily on KK. “Many business owners have taken initiative and planted them up with their own choice of plants and maintained them,” O’Donnell said. “About half have already been planted, but the ones that have not — the orphan planters — we’re going to plant in those.” Custom Grown will also maintain the “orphan planters.”
O’Donnell noted that the BID-owned planters should not be confused with other large planters purchased and maintained by individual businesses, like those in front of Lulu’s, as well as the flowerboxes created independent of the BID such as the flowerboxes made by the former owners of Future Green, where Odd Duck is located.
The budget for the flower program is approximately $6,500, O’Donnell said, and includes all flower material, installation, and upkeep/watering for four months. In past years, the Bay View Neighborhood Association (BVNA) had been involved in some flower programs, but this year it is solely a project of the KK BID.
The BID planted indigenous perennial grasses at Art Stop in 2016. There are still two unplanted portions at that site that the BID will landscape with smaller grasses and perennial flowering later this summer. O’Donnell said the BID hired an individual to plant and maintain the landscaping.
The BID is reviewing two proposals for “Welcome to Bay View” gateway signage on KK at the BID’s entry points — Becher on the north and Morgan on the south. O’Donnell said they hope to complete that project by late summer or early fall. Planning is still in the early stages and the BID has no design or artwork yet. The signs, which would emphasize all of Bay View, not just KK, will not be illuminated but will instead be placed near streetlights. They will be freestanding signs, an archway over the street like signage in the Third Ward. “We’re doing what we think is appropriate for the neighborhood and our budget,” O’Donnell said.
Other projects still in the very early stages include exploring the possibility of installing benches and more planters along KK; enhancing the pocket parks with landscaping and a picnic table. The triangle park on KK and Pryor Avenue may be spruced up.
The BID has also been meeting with the Bay View Historical Society and BVNA about a potential mural program. No locations have been determined at this time, O’Donnell said. They are still gauging the level of interest of business owners. “Preliminary feedback has shown that there is interest in it,” she said. “Mural art programs can be exciting and Bay View has such a great art community.”
Currently, Bay View has a number of murals on public and private structures. A few examples are the beer garden at South Shore Park, on a retaining wall at Trowbridge School playground, and in a narrow alley behind the Avalon Theater.
Looking toward the holiday season, O’Donnell said the BID would also repeat its successful Winter Wonder Windows holiday window-decorating contest. Twenty businesses participated in the contest in December 2015.
The BID’s streetscape committee members are Lee Barczak, Stephanie Harling, Ian Nunn, Mary Ellen O’Donnell, Carisse Ramos, and Toni Spott.
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.
Katherine Keller contributed to this story.