I heard about this situation from Carolyn Bucior, who lives in a cute bungalow on North Bartlett Avenue and East Kensington Boulevard.
"Cars are taking over my home," she told me.
But, I know what you are going to say. "Hey, you get to live a block from the action."
And it's true. Carolyn, and some of her neighbors, were the first to shout “hurrah” about Shorewood's new bustling north end, or as at least one businesses owner coined it, Kensington Square. But, they feel like they are also shouldering the traffic congestion on behalf of the village, which will hopefully be remedied with a new investigation of the effects of such growth.
Bucior's life in her home has changed since the new businesses have come to Shorewood. Her alley is frequently blocked by delivery trucks, and she and her husband will be drastically downsizing their already small cars in order to accommodate the tight turning angles afforded by wall-to-wall cars on both sides of the street.
She’s thrilled for the success of the businesses, including the Metropolitan at 1717 E. Kensington Blvd. “which, as I can see from my formerly tranquil southern exposure from my kitchen, is turning out appointments for rehab every 50 minutes, for people who need to park very close, and getting lots of visitors to the apartments as well."
Bucior counts, on average, 15 cars encircling her home on any given day from about 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., with the exception of Mondays.
“Mondays remind me of what it used to be like to live here, and look out the window and not see a constant rotation,” she says, “because salons and a few restaurants are closed that day.”
Carolyn has a list of issues, and possible solutions, ranging from permit parking or maybe some kind of employee parking.
“Everyone who works in the salons and the bars and restaurants are very nice," she said. "It’s the danger on Kensington getting out of my alley and backing blind into the onslaught of u-turns and traffic that scares me.”
To try to ease the burden of parking in Kensington Square, the village has recently came to an agreement with Shorewest Realty, just to the north of the congested business district, to make 13 spaces available in its lot at 4559 N. Oakland Ave., Monday through Friday evenings and starting at noon on weekends.
In addition to the 13 spaces, the village removed no parking signs in the 1700 block of Kensington Boulevard.
But, reducing the tight corners on the block by reinstating the no parking alongside the Metropolitan is one of her thoughts. She and Police Chief David Banaszynski have been having "productive discussions" and are working on it, and there will be a more formal study during times of congestion. Village officials and the chief are currently closely monitoring a parking plan in the southeast portion of the village aimed at alleviating what residents call a slew of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student and teacher parkers.
But, let’s do our own little experiment. Where are you right now? Sitting out somewhere, even, maybe, Alterra in Shorewood? Delightful! I wish I were there, it’s fun, like the adult student union of Shorewood. You may have walked, but it's likely you drove. And that's OK. Most do, when going out to North Star American Bistro, Three Lions Pub or NaNa Asian Fusion for dinner, making a trip to Wick’s Beer and Liquor, venturing out to get your hair done, shop; or visit a friend (or go home to) at the Metropolitan.
So, where did you park?
The Cornerstone has a nice lot in back, but if you were headed to the Metropolitan or the businesses across the street, those aren’t for you. Did you think about the houses as you drove past them, searching, searching for a place to stash your car?
Did you pull up and say, "Hmm, I bet I'm too close to that alley/sign/crosswalk, but oh well, I hope I don't get a ticket?"
Or did you say, "Oops, that was squishy, I maybe shouldn't have parked right on the grass there where the curb is so low" or maybe you went for it with a, "Hey, let me throw my cup and beer cans out of my car onto this nice lawn, that I might refresh myself and get some more and do it again tomorrow."
I parked too close to a crosswalk last night, even in researching this story. And I know I’m not alone.
Last night, between 7 and 8 p.m., I walked around and took a lot of (very indiscernible and dark) pictures about the cars that easily looked like over 50 percent non-resident, and noise and garbage piling up on the formerly quiet 1700 block of Kensington Boulevard and 4500 block of Bartlett Avenue. I went into a few places, and asked some people I knew where they had parked. One man hung his head and said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m parked on some lady’s lawn.”
People were eager to discuss it, and, in a way, admit infractions, as it’s new and a little surprising that in Shorewood there is a search for parking (sarcasm).
Here are some things I think we forget in our haste to serve ourselves:
- Put three feet between alley entrance and your car;
- Reduce u-turns on narrow streets;
- Yield to someone trying to get out of an alley, especially if they have to back out of a narrow garage.
Growth for Shorewood is great. Density is great. We are glad for successful, fun places in Shorewood, but the folks who live near the new construction, I believe, weren't aware that the parking situation would have to be remedied by them personally.