Shorewood President Mark Kohlenberg's remarks to the village board - April 18, 2005

As I have done previously, I would like to lay out several areas for the Village Board to consider during the next twelve months. I believe our board has made significant progress during the last year and I hope we will continue with this positive momentum of change into this coming year. I would like to outline several initiatives I feel are important for the board*s consideration as priorities, all in keeping with a progressive goal of positioning and strengthening Shorewood as the first choice for families in the North Shore.

  • A community wide ban on tobacco products in public spaces, restaurants and bars. In the past I have personally taken the position that this should be the responsibility of the business owner. However, after several visits to New York and Los Angeles, I have seen that a ban on tobacco use in restaurants and bars can be implemented effectively, and provide a smoke free atmosphere for all customers. For a Village such as Shorewood to genuinely promote a health conscious, family atmosphere, this should also include a physical presence free of second hand smoke. I would now support this initiative from our Village Board with the caveat that we grandfather in the handful of existing businesses in Shorewood that currently allow smoking. While I am not in favor of smoking in restaurants and bars, I also feel that the Village should not be punitive to those establishments that currently operate without this restriction.

  • An Environmental Priority for the Village Board. We live in a community that places environmental issues in high regard. With our Lake Michigan frontage, I feel our Village Board needs to take a leadership position on environmental issues. I would begin with several initiatives promoting a strong environmental conscience and way of life that resonates with the goal of placing families first in Shorewood. I would encourage the purchase and placement of multi-function (paper and glass) recycling containers throughout our business district on Oakland Avenue and Capital Drive in addition to all Village owned building and office environments. We have a long standing residential recycling program and it is important that this is reinforced and practiced throughout our community. I would also encourage our board to explore policy changes to provide options to Shorewood residents for alternatives to pesticide use on their lawns and on Village property. Shorewood should take a leadership position by using environmentally friendly products on Village Property and also providing information and alternatives for Village residents to do likewise. In terms of public health, preservation of our lake and the goal of putting Shorewood first for families, it is important we take a leadership position on preserving our environment and providing alternatives for our residents to participate.

  • Aggressive Enforcement to enable the walkability of Shorewood.
    Shorewood has an active Pedestrian Safety committee with leadership from Kit Behling, Patty Krieger and Bill Meeker. We have taken positive steps in re­striping crosswalks throughout the Village and placing “Yield” signs in crosswalks. However, we still are not achieving the goal of cities such as Madison, where the law states “if a person sets one foot in a crosswalk, you must stop your vehicle”. I would encourage our Village Board to consider providing direction to our Police Department to begin aggressive enforcement of our crosswalks and intersections to enable the elderly, our children and ourselves to safely and confidently cross our streets without fear of getting hit by a vehicle. I would also like to see our board take the initiative to establish bike lanes on Oakland Avenue, Lake Drive and Capital Drive within Village limits. Walkability extends to bikeability. Shorewood should to be a safe place to take your family on a bike ride and to have your children cross the street. This all points in the direction of providing visible and substantive amenities that promote Shorewood as the only choice for families in the North Shore.

    • Village Board Leadership to help our public schools. I believe Shorewood Public Schools are the “fabric of our community”. As a parent of a third grader at Lake Bluff and a seventh grader at the middle school, I have seen first band the effects of cuts and reductions of almost one million dollars per year for the last five years. I am of the firm belief that “as the schools go, our Village goes”, meaning that if we, as a community continue to see the product of our schools decline with little change in sight, we risk eventual decline in the perception of the quality of our community as a whole. Whether you have children in the schools or not, now is the time we must step up as a community and fight for the survival of high quality public education in Shorewood. Two years ago I initiated quarterly meetings between the Village Board and the School Board to begin substantive discussions on their respective budgets and agendas. This has led to productive collaboration, efficiency improvement and cost savings in several areas. However, the Village Board needs to step up and take a broader leadership position on the future of our schools. This is not only the School Board*s problem. I would like the Village Board to begin discussions on not only providing certain services for the schools, but also providing funding for some of these services as well. The Village Board*s initiatives on long range planning could possibly provide guidance to the School Board in the area of long range planning as well. There is no reason in a Village that cherishes excellence in their public schools that the Village Board should not be doing whatever we can to stand up and provide leadership to enable our public schools to retain excellence. Putting families first in Shorewood requires that our public schools cultivate and maintain this demonstrable excellence.

    Keeping Shorewood Affordable for young families. Kellie Lang and the Budget and Finance committee has done a tremendous job of controlling property taxes during the last several years. As the Village Board moves into another budget cycle this summer, I would again encourage the board to limit any property tax increases to the rate of inflation. With energy costs at an all time high, young families do not have the disposable income to pay a premium in property taxes for Shorewood over other North Shore communities. Kellie*s committee and our Village Manager, Chris Swartz and Finance Director, Sheree Reininger have creatively found new processes to increase the efficiency in service delivery. We have seen great leadership from Jim Bartnicki at the DPW and Dave Banaszynski, our Police Chief, to produce more with less. This is not a one time event, but will become a way of life as state funding declines and health care benefits escalate. With over 50% of Shorewood housing stock as apartments, I would encourage our Village Board to provide an affordable property tax environment to enable duplex, apartment and commercial property owners to invest in improvements to their properties, which facilitates growth in those areas of our tax base. I would also encourage the Village to fund a study of its physical plants to look beyond today in terms of the long term space and facility needs of our Village Hall, DPW and Police Department. Now is the time to determine if our current facilities will meet Shorewood*s future needs. Consideration should be given to the efficiency of locating all Village entities under one roof, with integrated technology and pooled administrative support. We need to think beyond today in order to maximize the productivity of our staff and the efficiency of our facilities. Again, Shorewood*s ability to deliver high quality services while at the same time positioning Shorewood as the affordable choice for families in the North Shore is predicated on our ability to maximize the efficiency and productivity of our staff and facilities.

    I would hope our Village Board could use the next twelve months to position Shorewood as a leader among North Shore communities, as a Village that places families at the forefront of its planning. To achieve these goals, our Village Board must step up and lead through innovative policy change. With property values and the fabric of Shorewood so closely tied to our excellent public schools, a comprehensive investment in promoting the “Shorewood brand” as the first choice for families in the North Shore will provide a foundation for Shorewood*s future. Policy changes in public tobacco use, environmental initiatives, enforcement of walkability and bike lanes and continual innovation in budgeting and service delivery will enable Shorewood to thrive and be the only choice for families in the North Shore.