BY MADELINE WILSON —
The village board has scheduled Wilson Drive for reconstruction by 2018. The village board formed the Wilson Drive Community Task Force to get more public input on the options for the reconstruction Wilson Drive.
“[The village board] decided to develop a special task force of citizens to come up with ideas on how to reconstruct the corridor on Wilson Drive. Basically there was a lot of concern and interest in the part of citizens in Shorewood. So the village board felt that the best way to address that was to develop a task force to make it as public as possible to come up with ideas,” said Steve Kavalauskas, Steering Committee co-chair.
The task force consists of a steering committee and four work groups. Members of these groups were selected from an application process; over 75 people applied for these groups.
The Steering Committee is made up of Davida Amenta and Patrick Linnane, village board liaisons, Donna Pollock, Conservation Committee liaison, Ellen Eckman, Parks Commission liaison, Thomas Kuhlmann, Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety liaison, Tim Vander Mel, Recreation and Community Services liaison, and Kavalauskas, Henk Joubert, Elizabeth Beeghly, Eric Couto, Nathan Hemming, Therese Klein and Joseph Teglia, residents. They meet on the second Wednesday of every month to organize and plan the task force, as well as guarantee public participation.
“The role of the steering committee is to get the work groups going, keep the process moving and make sure there is public input,” Amenta said.
Work group members work to address more specific issues in the reconstruction of Wilson Drive. The four work groups include traffic and safety, environment, recreation and development. Each work group has nine members, including those from the steering committee.
There are three possibilities for the reconstruction of Wilson Drive that the task force is considering: keeping the road at the same width, narrowing the road and narrowing the road with development on the west side.
According to Beeghly, a majority of the public supports narrowing Wilson Drive.
“From what I understand, everyone wants to see Wilson Drive narrowed. We want this because we want to make it easier to cross to Estabrook Park. That’s something we have heard from the community very loud and clear,” Beeghly said.
Amenta agreed. “Most people would like the road narrowed and the traffic calmed down so you can get across the road and you can get a feeling that the park is part of the village,” Amenta said.
Other concerns the public has include the tax base, the environment and development. Amenta says the majority of those she has spoken to oppose large-scale development on the west side of Wilson Drive.
“There’s very few people who support largescale development like row housing on Wilson Drive,” Amenta said. In addition, the work groups are working to generate more specific ideas for Wilson Drive.
“Right now we are not in a place where we are even seeing the options that are being posed. We are in the discussion phase just forming ideas,” Beeghly said.
From each of the work group’s ideas, the steering committee will form alternatives. “After the work groups have come up with all their concepts and ideas the steering committee is going to take them and mash them into alternatives,” Amenta said.
These alternatives made from the Wilson Drive Community Task Force will be presented to the village board’s Strategic Initiatives Committee in 2017.
“My main goal is to deliver to the village board ideas that are being generated by the community that are viable and workable options for Wilson Drive … so it can be handed off by the village board and the village board can make their decision,” Kavalauskus said.
Following the presentation of the alternatives to the Strategic Initiatives Committee, Amenta would like to see the board study the effects on traffic.
“At some point the board needs to mind you have some kind of traffic work done because a big concern of many people, myself included, is that if we narrow Wilson Drive that people will start using the east roads instead,” Amenta said.
Next, the Strategic Initiative Committee will make a recommendation for the seven members of the village board to vote on.
“Ultimately, the decision is at the village board level,” Amenta said.
Kavalauskas encourages the public to attend the meetings. Wilson Dive Community Task Force meetings are open to public attendance and comments. The public can also participate in whichever work group they prefer in the meeting.
“We encourage anyone who wants to, to attend the meetings,” Kavalauskas said. There will be an open house on June 15 at the library to get additional input from the public.
“That is going to be a chance for the public to come in and see on paper of what we are really talking about and give some feedback,” Amenta said.
Beeghly is also listening to the public’s opinions through social media. “Being on a member of the task force, I’ve joined all the social media groups to hear all the arguments and bring them back to the task force. My number one goal is to hear from everybody,” Beeghly said.
Kavalauskas hopes to find a solution that is supported by the community. “The process itself is very good and hopefully it will come up with something that will be pretty much agreed upon by the whole community and will be good for the future of the community,” Kavalauskas said.
Beeghly agreed. “I really hope that we can find something that all of the community in Shorewood can support,” Beeghly said. The next Wilson Drive Community Task Force meeting is May 25 at the Village Hall.