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An Open Letter On the Proposed Garden Room's Frederick Ave. Parking Lot

While strong opposition to the proposal has been vocal and visible, there is another side.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cricket October 31, 2012 at 12:37 AM
At least at City Market and Sendiks I am greeted courteously when I spend my money there as opposed to the few times I have been at GR I have been totally ignored by the young gal with red hair that man's the front area - very very unfriendly. You could have a stroke in the place and they wouldn't notice. I think GR offers a product that Shorewood would like - I have no problem with that, their gifts are cute, some are in a reasonable price range while most are not. I can brew just as good a cup of tea at home and have just as good a meal but admittedly do not care for the cuisine at Anaba. I'd rather dine at CM, where while I am greeted my order may not always come as requested. I at least feel at home and wanted there which I can honestly say that I do not at GM. I am a life long North Shore resident and have shopped and dealt with some of the snootiest but this place has a negative vibe to it - starting with the gal up front. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
Absolutelyfabulous October 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Ok, this is for inquiring minds...All I can say is..stop the insanity!! The Garden Room should have access to all the legal firepower available since the owner's father founded Generac ie "Generac Power Systems, one of the world's largest independent manufacturers of complete engine-driven generator systems. " It will be interesting to see what, if any, of the plan commission members/trustees get weak kneed at the potential thought of doing business w/ someone who seemingly has so many resources/connections/influence. Bring it on..This could get interesting or maybe not
N. Peske October 31, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I think it's wildly inappropriate to divert the discussion into the topic of Anaba's owner's personal wealth. At the public meeting, it was clear that people on both sides of the topic, or in the middle, wanted to conduct a civil conversation--even if some people's feelings had been hurt by the owner's way of going about purchasing the property and asking for the rezoning. It would be nice if anonymous posters would conduct civil conversations in these forums without resorting to gleeful lipsmacking over possible dramas. Once again, I appreciate all my fellow Shorewoodians who have approached this topic in a thoughtful, respectful way reflective of our values here--and demonstrating to our kids what collaborative problem solving involves.
Absolutelyfabulous October 31, 2012 at 09:42 PM
We'll see. Obviously, you seem to forget how Dan Katz got approval for his tearing down of an adjacent house to create a parking lot. You seem to forget about the millions and millions bestowed upon Barry Mandel w/ the public completely shut out of the entire process oh and Trustee Hanewall's architectural firm that he is employed at handling the design of the $32,000,000 development. Money does talk along w/ the opportunities/power that come with it. So, even though it was more along the lines of the National Inquirer to bring into the mix the Generac connection, is a pretty powerful connection. So, in the world you live in maybe everyone is equal and has an equal say/chance at things. Though, that's not reality. Just look at some of the kids who get busted for drugs/stealing/DUI's in the northshore and who's parents come forward with their lawyers to get them off/records cleared so they don't have a blemished record when applying to college/jobs. Money talks and I'm just interested if it will in this instance as well. I previously thought Dan Katz had the advantage in his situation because of his "resources/access to legal counsel.though he is an attorney himself" Now, w/ this bit of info and since the decision makers already opened the door/set some sort of precedent w/ tearing down another house, Anaba doesn't have to worry about having the $ to pursue a legal battle, if they choose and there is merit, which can be a deterrant for many others w/out resources.
Anjou E November 08, 2012 at 04:33 AM
My 84 year old handicapped Mom manages to park in the village lot and make it safely to and from her tea dates all by herself. How lazy and helpless are people getting?Maybe they can skip a few minutes on the treadmill at the gym when they drive there.

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