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Cream Citizen on 2nd Street Redevelopment

February 25, 2009

Looking south on 2nd Street (pic via Compujaremy)

Looking south on 2nd Street (pic via Compujaremy)

Earlier today I came across a newish website, Cream Citizen, that deals with development and sustainability in Milwaukee.  The post I link to mentions some future plans for repaving 2nd Street from St. Paul to National Avenue and floats the idea of narrowing the street to one lane in both directions and incorporating a bike lane.  Both are great ideas, but it appears Juli Kaufmann, the main proponent of this plan, is having a little bit of difficulty getting any of her representatives to go along with her plan.

That’s unfortunate because in its current state, 2nd Street feels grossly underutilized for a street as wide as it is.  I can half-heartedly understand concerns about limited parking in the area, but considering that the majority of commuters speed along on 1st Street and completely ignore 2nd Street, adding a buffered bike lane would provide a pedestrian-friendly element to an area that has been the scene of horrific accidents involving bikers and pedestrians.   It would also make incredible sense to re-establish this section of the Oak Leaf Trail as an urban pedestrian-friendly space on the near south side.   Juli’s idea of creating a Business Improvement District seems like the logical first step in effecting greater change on 2nd Street’s redevelopment and I hope Alderman Witkowiak will pay greater attention to the ideas of business owners along this promising street.

  1. February 25, 2009 11:31 am

    Great article (I’m working on one for on this topic) and I agree 100% with this proposal.

  2. Juli Kaufmann permalink
    February 25, 2009 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the post. I appreciate all efforts to continue dialogue about 2nd Street and I wanted to add a few comments. There are lots of folks involved along and around 2nd Street and all of us have varying ideas about what should be done to continue to enhance our community. These diverse points of view add to the texture and richness of our experiences. I do think that we at least have general agreement that 2nd Street could be improved with more trees, flower boxes, better lighting and, of course, repaving. Several business owners on the Street have begun discussions of forming a Business Improvement District and we are now seeking support from property owners. Essentially, this means we will tax ourselves ($500 – $1,500) annually to self-fund public improvements. We are simply seeking more transparent and responsive participation from our public partners.

    I am the first to admit that I don’t have all the details, I don’t know all the answers, and others have been at this much longer than me. That said, I don’t think it is unreasonable to advocate for more thoughtfulness and consideration for pedestrians and bikes. It is well established that these lead to tangible community improvement. To clarify, we are NOT advocating that the street technically gets narrower. While I frankly would personally like to see that, it seems it may not be financially realistic (related to historic conditions subsurface). More simply we are asking to maintain the same width, just eliminate one traffic lane in each direction. Each existing vehicle lane would be made wider and clearly marked, we could add a bike lane, enhance sidewalks, and KEEP the same level of parking that already exists. Our State Representatives (Carpenater and Colon) both support these ideas, but the City Department of Public Works indicates that state funding formulas will not allow these modifications- specifically we must keep two vehicle lanes in each direction and no bike land will be added.

    I welcome more voices in the discussion. So far, the City has committed the addition of 50 trees to the plan. This is fantastic, but I hope we can achieve more in our efforts to make 2nd Street truly great. – Juli

  3. February 26, 2009 11:23 am

    Thanks again for your comment, Juli! I can understand DOT rules about traffic lanes, but even your ideas about beautifying the street would add a lot of value to the neighborhood. I would think public leaders would want more cooperation and input from the people that make their neighborhoods great, so I hope this is the start of something better for this area.

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