Since moving to the 4th district in 1998 my wife and I have witnessed many big changes in our neighborhood. More big changes loom over us and I will be writing about them here.
Hey look Ma I'm writing a blog. Once my Mom has seen some of the things I'll be writing about, and saying she'll say "Gary" your going to make some people mad. Oh I know Mom but I don't know any way around it. I began writing my blog over a week ago but I got cold feet. I think I have to ease myself into it and get warmed up.
I chose the title Gary's Corner of Tosa because we live at the intersection of Martin Drive and North 62nd Street. I plan on writing about my experiences, observations, and the many questions I have. For instance Grede Foundry why is it still there operating? We see concern in the news about butter flies and the need to call the hazardous material team out because of dangerous fumes from a meth lab. Isn't anyone else concerned about this Foundry? I have cancer does anyone else have cancer who lives down wind of Grede? I recently asked the EPA if the foundry pollution was safe to breath? They didn't know. They would have to spend $40,000 to do air monitoring and it would take a year. I guess we aren't worth it. The DNR says Grede Liberty foundry is in compliance with the law, but still they can't say if the air is safe to breath down wind.
Another subject I'll write about is David Israel's on and off development to our West and right next door to Grede. How can anyone believe he's going to build a condo or as he's proposing now housing for Seniors only an alley away from the loud and polluting foundry. Our city government granted him $1.9 in TIFF money to build condos. But to my knowledge the developer never even had electrical, water, or sewer plans drawn up to go along with the neat drawings of what the condo's would look like. Regardless of what some news sources have reported "none" of the contaminated soil from those 10 acres (a Brown Site) has been removed. And why not?
That brings me to the Enclave. When I think of people living in a enclave I think of some place where people are hiding out or walled off like in a fortress. Well the apartment project the Derse Exhibits building is being replaced by is called the Enclave. I've heard of no plans for any iron fences or walls, but the sheer size of the 2 structures will tower over the single family homes on the North side of Martin Drive. I myself see it as a fortress with all three levels of apartments atop the ground level parking making it 4 stories high. The Enclave residents will be secure and able to keep an eye on us ground dwellers as we scurry around living our new lives in their shadow. Being retired I have lots of free time. If the Enclave is built as planned I promise you'll be seeing me in the shadow of the Enclave on a lawn chair in my front yard. I'll be armed with my pot belly and speed o's as if out for a tan. Wait a minute I have to roll over. Well I would do that if it wasn't for Grede's air pollution keeping us indoors so often.
Let me say one more thing about the Enclave or as I call it the Derse Apartments. Some time ago while I sat outside of my sculpture studio Derse CEO Bill Haney asked me what I'd like to see the Derse building become. I told him I don't want to see a 3 or 4 story condo project like Mr. David Israel is proposing next door. Mr Haney made a comment about leasing the building out temporary until it's ready for redeveloping. But Alderman McBride standing next to Mr Haney said no we don't want any more industry to move into this area. I believe he made comments about the distance from the expressway and something about the need for places for people to live. He then spoke words I wish he could be held to. Alderman McBride said that the redevelopment shouldn't effect the single family residents on Martin Drive. He added that he envisions the apartments along Martin Drive only be a single story. Further to the south it can become 2 stories, and next to the Reserve Apartments they can become 3 stories. Good! I felt really good about that. That makes sense to me. That's fine I thought. But I still won't like the added traffic I said.
Months later I'm shocked. The Derse apartment plans are for one huge building 3 1/2 stories high. Alderman McBride is now all for it. What changed? What did change Alderman McBride? The city needs money I suppose. That excuse is getting old. The city needs money. Right. If our community needs tax revenue then why is Grede Foundry still here? Isn't the presence of the foundry holding up redevelopment in this redevelopment district?
Wauwatosa citizens aren't benefiting from the Foundries property taxes. The creation of this TIFF District surrounding Grede is holding back all the taxes collected within it for redevelopment of the district itself. What do we have to show for it? Not what anyone planned for. Mr. David Israel got some where over $400,000 I'm told to tear down the Western Metals factory. Why hasn't Mr. Israel cleaned up his contaminated soil yet? If the clean up was done maybe a developer other then Mr. Israel would be attracted to his property, offer to buy it, and really build condo's.
Or maybe it's too soon to clean up the 10 acre Western Metals lot. Let me ask this question would it be premature to clean up the 10 acres while the Grede Foundry continues to operate next door to it? Would Grede's continued operation recontaminate a cleaned Brown site? Is that what's happening? Is this why Mr. Israel hasn't cleaned up his property yet? If this is true then Mr. Israel won't be building anything except artist renderings to throw us off until Grede closes it's Liberty foundry. That would explain why Alderman McBride comments that Grede could still be in operation for 5 to 10 years. I ask how would he know that?
Then again if I'm wrong and Mr. Israel builds senior housing my advice to the seniors is only go out doors when the wind is blowing east or south, never when its raining or foggy, when the humidity is high, or there is no wind at all because the valley fills up with the pollution. And for the Enclave, well I hope they enjoy the neat little pool they have planned. I guess the young people who are expected to live there can handle a little benzene and hydrogen cyanide, lead and arsenic. At least their pool will be on the sunny side of the building.
How did I do Mom?