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Busy year ahead for North Shore leaders

Dec. 30, 2013

North Shore was a busy place in 2013. By all accounts, elected officials will be just as busy, if not busier, in 2014.

We interviewed top officials across the North Shore about their plans for the New Year. Here's what they'll be working on in 2014:

Bayside

From Village Manager Andy Pederson's year-end State of the Village report:

"Above all, we will continue to maintain and build our strong adherence to the Village's strategic values of fiscal integrity, civic engagement, service excellence, and sustainability," writes Pederson.

Village initiatives for 2014 include: consolidation of records management with the other North Shore Fire Department member communities; assimilation of community utility services and dispatch into nonrepresented staff; phase two of the voluntary municipal water project; diversification of village urban forest, with emphasis on adopt-a-tree program and emerald ash borer; ongoing infrastructure maintenance like manhole rehabs, road resurfacing, and ravine stabilization; and an expansion of community events and outreach, among others.

Brown Deer

After numerous debates and compromises from both the village and Walmart, the supermarket and discount store will open a chain at 6300 W. Brown Deer Road at the end of the 2014 summer. The 140,000-square-foot Walmart will fill the former Lowe's home improvement store.

The Brown Deer store replaces a Walmart that closed near the southwest corner of Brown Deer Road and 76th Street in Milwaukee.

Though most of the rehabilitation work in the Original Village of Brown Deer was completed in 2013, final landscaping and decorative elements, such as signage, a historical plaza and seating area will spill over into 2014. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is also being planned in the first half of the new year.

Fox Point

Since Fox Point is essentially built out, Village President Michael West said the Village Board's ongoing task is more maintenance than anything else, and, of course, the annual budget.

"The biggest thing we do every year is the budget, and we'll do that again," West said. "That takes a fair effort and attention to detail."

Of note in 2014 will be a study on the village pool, which will give the board options as it weighs a potential overhaul or replacement in the coming years.

And after years of studies, estimates, and dozens of meetings, the board may in January send the Bridge Lane Ravine footbridge project out to bid. The matter is slated for a January Village Board meeting, West said.

"The Village Board has been taking the bridge step by step by step," West said, "and the next step, when we decide to do it, may be to put the bridge out for bid."

Glendale

The coming year could be big for developments, City Administrator Richard Maslowski said.

The highest-profile project is the incoming HofbrÀuhaus at the former Bavarian Inn site, and there are eight other potential projects in various discussion stages, including commercial, residential, medical, senior housing and manufacturing developments. Maslowski said those projects will go public as they come before elected officials.

"It could be a very busy year for the city," Maslowski said.

City staff will also be reconstructing Bender Road west of Green Bay Road to set the stage for a jointly developed city and Nicolet School District park at the former landfill site off the west end of Bender. If all goes according to plan, the two governing bodies could break ground on the park in 2015, Maslowski has said.

Officials are also keeping an eye on the Hilton and Anchorage Restaurant site. Hotel owners have threatened to sue the city after the Common Council denied a rezoning request to facilitate a lodging facility for international students. The lawsuit has not yet materialized, and city officials will only get involved again if another change of use or zoning change is proposed.

"We're in a holding pattern, waiting to see what the property owners come back to us with," Maslowski said.

Mequon

Elected officials will be busy looking for new developments at the city's Town Center tax incremental financing district and will continue work on landscape designs for the riverfront park at Mequon and Cedarburg roads, Mayor Dan Abendroth said.

The Common Council will soon see plans for single-family homes at a site previously approved for condominiums within the city's central growth area.

Mequon leaders will also continue the ongoing dialogue between the state Department of Transportation and federal authorities, who are proposing future expansions of Mequon Road and the Port Washington Road interchange of Interstate 43. Both proposals have been panned by the Common Council.

"The city, state and federal governments will have to try to find some resolution on those," Abendroth said.

On the city's east side, the city plans sewer fixes and redevelopments along Port Washington Road, Abendroth added.

The dispute continues between River Club of Mequon owner Tom Weickardt and residents of the Ville Du Parc area. Weickardt has pitched several plans to neighbors in the hopes of gaining support for a subdivision on 42-acres of land adjacent to the Milwaukee River, but has not yet won them over.

The council will get involved if and when Weickardt proposes changes to the easements governing open space in the subdivisions or gains approval for either preserving or developing the 42-acre lot.

"There's room to move in both directions," Abendroth said. "We'll see where it goes."

River Hills

Village officials are in preliminary talks of purchasing a 48-acre lot off Brown Deer Road with the intent of converting it into a public park, Village President Bob Brunner said. Village leaders are currently haggling over a purchase price and working with the Department of Natural Resources in an effort to prohibit bowhunting on the land, should the purchase happen.

Police Chief Tom Rischmann has announced his intent to retire late in 2014, meaning the board will recruit and hire a new chief near the end of the year or in early 2015, Brunner said.

Reconstruction of the Range Line Road bridge is slated for 2014, and officials will continue their dialogue with the DOT over residents' desire for inclusion of a sound barrier in an upcoming I-43 expansion project.

"We've got good people in our major departments," Brunner said. "We're looking forward to a good year."

Shorewood

Village President Guy Johnson said there will be three overarching themes to village projects in 2014: sewer work, the village vision plan, and redevelopment.

As part of the village comprehensive plan for sewer, stormwater, and combined sewer improvements, village workers will be completing sewer and stormwater infrastructure work on Glendale Avenue as well as continue projects on private sewer laterals, public sewer linings and manhole rehabilitation.

Village staff, elected officials and community members will work together in 2014 to update and redefine the village vision plan for 2025; the original vision plan was made in 2006 and updated in 2009 to reflect goals for 2015.

"Everything we do from a policy standpoint goes back to the vision plan," Johnson said. "This I consider a big deal."

Plans are moving forward for a senior living complex and senior apartments at the former Pig N' Whistle site in the village's third tax-incremental-financing district. Officials are in the early planning stages of a new tax incremental financing district to spur redevelopment in the area of the old Walgreens site, shuttered bookstore, and Pick 'n Save, Johnson said.

According to Johnson, other 2014 initiatives include: continuing the Plein Air Art Festival which was a success this summer; working with the city of Milwaukee to expand its bike share program into Shorewood; restoration of a bluff along the Milwaukee River; increasing collaborations with area municipalities; and a reconstruction of Murray Avenue and its connector streets.

Thiensville

Village President Van Mobley likens Thiensville's development prospects to the tried and true middle school science experiment on saturation points, where students dissolve more and more salt into water until, all of a sudden, the point is reached and crystals begin to form.

"We're right there, but not quite there yet," Mobley said. "We don't have the crystallization yet."

Mobley said officials are working with the development community to produce proposals for the area around the Walgreens at Main Street and Freistadt Road, the former M&I Bank building, and several areas on the south end of Main Street.

Officials will need to decide how to proceed with such developments proposals, if and when they come, and whether to go ahead with extensions of municipal water on Main Street.

"The two issues are linked," Mobley said. "In the perfect world, there would already be water up and down Main Street."

A refreshed main drag, paired with new infrastructure, would entice prospective homeowners to come, stay and invest in their properties, Mobley said.

"We'd be set for 25 years," Mobley said. "Who knows what tomorrow's going to bring, but that's our thinking."

Whitefish Bay

Whitefish Bay's biggest project in 2014 will be the continued overhaul of village sewer and stormwater infrastructure, Village President Julie Siegel said.

There will also be a continued focus on environmental issues, specifically the use of pesticides on village properties. In 2013, the village used a "hybrid" approach of some pesticides in public spaces and a volunteer, "boots on the ground" labor from interested parties. The approach will be similar in 2014, Siegel said.

"I think one of the things that will be used in the future will be partnering with the different (environmental and interest) groups," Siegel said.

Otherwise, Siegel expects a calm year.

"Quiet is good," Siegel said. "Nothing major, just keep moving forward."

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