Dear friends and fellow Shorewoodians,
When I read that 60 people showed up to oppose Deborah Kern’s (Owner of the Garden Room/Anaba Tea Room), proposal to put a parking lot in the place of a house she purchased behind her store, I realized that those that often support ideas don’t speak out like those who oppose them. I want to offer some thoughts from another side.
Much has been made of a parking lot “increasing crime” – for some parking lots in more remote places that may be true. At the same time, the residents on that block have a giant parking lot across the street and according to Shorewood police, no incidents of crime have been reported there. Additionally, the proposed lot (as well as all the houses on the block) could hardly be closer to the police station that is open 24 hours a day. The assertion makes no sense to me.
Secondly, if a parking lot causes property values to drop, then the houses on Frederick would not be worth much, given the lot across the street — but I’m going to guess your taxes are about the same as mine.
I would encourage us to look at the upside of The Garden Room’s proposal:
- I can hardly find a place to park on Capitol on that block or the next one to the east. This lot, behind the store will open spaces on the street.
- Deborah Kern has proposed an environmentally responsible lot including a rain garden. More expensive to do, but much in keeping with our community’s environmental philosophy.
- Ms. Kern has paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars in property taxes to the village in the last 11 years. With her renovations, she has increased the building’s value by 125%. We could lose all of that revenue if she has to relocate the store.
- She employees 25 people and has personally contributed nearly $20,000 to schools, the Criterium, the SEED Foundation and the Shorewood Men’s Club since opening the store.
- Not all of the Garden Room or Anaba Tea Room’s customers come from Shorewood — but all of the 36,250 people that come in are bringing revenue to our village.
I understand it is difficult to lose a good Shorewood house — I get that. I also know we live in a different world economically and we can’t afford to lose good local businesses or the revenue they bring to our village. We risk losing all of this. I have spoken with Deborah and if her business continues to suffer (in an already horrendous economy) because of parking, we stand to lose the Garden Room and Anaba in Shorewood. We don’t need more empty storefronts.
When Scott Walker slashed the rights of teachers, unions, women and schools, many of us rightfully picked up our clipboards and hit the political trail. But I think we’ve taken our clipboards and our anger a little too far here. This story is about a philanthropic woman with a good local business that feeds our community -- which we stand to lose.
If you tend to agree, consider coming to the meeting of the Village Board on November 19 at 7:30 p.m. or calling a board member to let them know there IS another viewpoint. Thanks.