Trustee Candidates Talk Parking, Development, New Police Station at Men's Club Forum
Village Board candidates weighed in on key local issues Wednesday night about an election forum hosted by the Shorewood Men's Club.
With the spring election quickly approaching, three candidates for Shorewood Village Board weighed in on key local issues in a forum Thursday hosted by the Shorewood Men's Club.
Two newcomers and one incumbent are running for two seats on the board. Trustee Ellen Eckman announced her retirement from the board after 12 years in mid-December.
The forum allowed for an introduction and closing statement from each candidate, but mostly consisted of questions from audience members. The candidates are:
Tammy Bockhorst. Bockhorst moved to Shorewood six years ago and has become involved with many community activities, including working to reinstate the Conservation Committee and starting the green bag campaign.
Patrick Linnane, incumbent. Served on the board since 2010. He touted the board’s work to minimize tax increases while maintaining services, identifying efficiencies and how it has aggressively sought public opinion on issues affecting residents.
Paul Zovic. Has been a small business owner with experience in finance, budgeting, human resources and policy and business development. He served on the Shorewood School Board for more than 10 years and is ready to bring his skills to the Village Board.
Funding a new police station
Up until the flooding in July 2010 after the village's sewer system couldn't handle torrential rains, Linnane said the board had made some serious progress in talks on a new police facility. The focus then moved to an overhaul of the sewer system.
"There was a definite commitment to upgrading that building, but the question some people have is, is it worthwhile to upgrade the facility or should we be building a new facility, (and) where would it go if it did," he said. "Those things have no been fully explored."
Bockhorst said she toured the station and saw a new police station should be a priority.
"I could go through a big litany of reasons why," she said.
Zovic said when the station hinders officers’ and detectives’ ability to do their jobs, it’s a problem.
"I've been through there a few times, and we need to do something," he said. "I don't know what the answer is but we absolutely need to do something."
In the dual urban-suburb community of Shorewood, parking has always been a hot issue. Candidates were asked if they believe Shorewood has a parking problem, and if so, what are their visions for addressing it.
The first step is recognizing we have a problem, Zovic said, and the village doesn't have a solid policy on parking on its streets.
"We are either going to park on the streets, or we are not going to park on the streets, we are either going to control how, when and how much people park, or we are not," he said.
"We have to recognize that the status quo isn't working and that we have to change something."
Linnane disagreed with Zovic saying Police Chief David Banaszynski is always working on a new approach to parking. He said the village's parking policy couldn't keep up with the constantly changing demands for available parking.
"I think it's our responsibility not to have a single policy, but to be responsive to wherever those needs are and sensitive to what created those needs," he said. "I do agree we have a parking problem, but it doesn't look the same everyday."
Bockhorst said it's a unique parking problem in Shorewood, with more people using the village roadways to patronize the business district and explore the community. She said she can see a need to tighten up some of the inconsistencies within the village's parking policy.
"Not necessarily making it a one-size-fits-all policy, but looking at parking a little bit more proactively," she said.
In talking with Banaszynski, Bockhorst said parking has become a big part of the police department's and village staff workload, so it is important to find a creative solution, like Zipcars, a car sharing service.
The Ravenna development, a four-story retail and apartment building, has recently wrapped up, and a six-story development next to Sendik's is under construction. A resident at the forum said "the new high-rises" have changed the character of North Oakland Avenue and asked the candidates about their stances on multi-story developments and the growing business district.
Bockhorst said it has to be a delicate balance of development and preserving what makes Shorewood special.
"Anytime we grow, we have to make sure, we don't allow unnecessary urgency to dictate the decisions, that we look far enough ahead, decades ahead, and ask is this major change going to impact us positively," she said. "We can't always determine if that is the case, but what we can do is have a community discussion."
Zovic said there are too many factors involved with a decision like that as a trustee, and that he couldn't truly articulate how he would act.
He said the board has done a good job of taking into consideration the characteristics that bring people to Shorewood, when a development opportunity is proposed, and whether it would affect those attributes.
Linnane there are funding drivers with development, but also an opportunity to draw a new audience to the village. It also provides avenues for seniors to stay in the community and opens up homes for young families.