A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
The other night I decided not to infiltrate a "blog and grog" event at Sprizzo's in Waukesha and attended a Wauwatosa Community Development Committee meeting instead. I was there at 8 pm for the Hart Park athletic fields naming rights discussion that didn't start until after 10.
But I didn't mind waiting. If you've never been to a civic meeting, you're missing out on some good theater. A little slow-motion, but rewarding to the patient.
The main act of the evening, drawing a standing-room-only crowd, was the expansion of Leff's Lucky Town on State Street.
Chris Leffler, owner of the bar and of Spectrum Development Group, bought the defunct filling station next door and wants to open a 1200 square foot facility and outdoor beer garden there.
Leffler is a sort of rock star, apparently. He came with a posse of rather attractive youngish men, most of them dark haired and suspiciously tan. My son, George, has educated me about the "tanning bed girls," the younger female equivalent. I didn't know they came with Y chromosomes, too. Body guards? Groupies? I settled on probable friends and colleagues.
Also there to support Leffler was former mayor Estness, area business people, folks from the Wauwatosa Economic Development Corporation and from the Business Improvement District. Some 22 of them attested to Leffler's superior qualities as a businessman, community member, and friend.
Leff's is a very popular bar, this week voted 2009 Best Suburban Bar by OnMilwaukee.com readers and editors. It won by a landslide, as it did last year, too. It's so popular, in fact, that I've never been able to sample their proclaimed burgers even though I've tried several times.
But as some of the neighborhood residents who came with reservations or outright objections about the project pointed out, Leff's patrons aren't like the patrons of Vino 100. And unlike Vino 100, the property backs and fronts right onto private homes. There are real problems with noise, parking, and public acts of various forms of physical relief that shouldn't be public. It's a little daunting to think of what a 40% increase in business might mean.
While fewer people spoke in opposition, those who did were passionate. And a little windy, some of them. But they were talking about their lives, their homes, and their families.
I'm not taking sides, and I think the committee did a good job of channeling the wisdom of Solomon. They cut back patio hours from 2 am to 11 pm, recommended that Leff's provide neighborhood security during summer months, and immediately understood and acted on the need to do something serious to change parking in the area.
Most impressive were the ordinary citizens on both sides of the issue. They spoke thoughtfully, nearly all of them trying to understand the position on the other side, most open to compromise. They were shining examples of citizens who care about community and civility. We can be proud to live in a community that has such people in it.
And a thought for Chris Leffler: you advertise the biggest urinal in town. Maybe size isn't all that. I suggest that you put the bathrooms in the front of the house (or houses), near the door where people can see them on the way out. Maybe they'll visit before exiting. The neighbors might thank you for it.