Wisconsin Lutheran College is committed to not developing east into Wauwatosa, an official said last week, and has initiated meetings with the city and surrounding property owners to address growing parking problems.
The college owns almost all of the homes on the west side of Pleasant View Street, in Wauwatosa. In a 2002 agreement with the city, the college agreed to not develop east of the rear property line of those homes, said Jason Van Acker, the college's vice president of marketing and communications, at a community meeting last week.
Although the 10-year agreement expired last year, the college will continue to honor it, Van Acker said.
"As a general rule, we've said that we'd be looking west" of the rear lot line of the Pleasant View homes, he said in a followup interview.
The college is located at the municipal border, with Milwaukee to the west, and Wauwatosa on the east.
The college continues to meet mistrust on the part of some longtime neighbors, who claim they have seen promises made and broken over a decade or more, much of that time under different college leadership. One participant urged the college to sign another commitment with the city affirming the promise not to develop east of the line.
In response to a question by Van Acker, community participants voiced a strong preference for the college to sell the Pleasant View homes to private owners, preventing the college from developing the lots.
The college has already begun its expansion to the west as it plans to build a new dorm housing just more than 200 students on the south side of West Wisconsin Avenue, between 89th and 90th streets, which is in Milwaukee. The college plans 53 units, housing four students each, with one parking spot provided per unit.
The parking problem
On-campus parking is tight, but so is parking on the street. With a goal to grow to 2,020 students by the year 2020, the college expects to have 1,400 traditional undergraduates, 70 percent of whom live on campus. That means 30 percent, or 420, won't live on campus, and are likely to arrive at the school in cars, which likely would be parked on the street.
In addition, the college expects 620 of its projected student body to be adult and graduate students — most of them getting to school in a car.
Van Acker said the school is exploring a number of options to ease parking, including remote parking at the school's athletic fields on the County Grounds, where 300 cars could park, with a shuttle taking students back and forth.
The problem will get worse as the college expands, but already Ravenswood residents are frustrated by what they perceive to be students parking in their neighborhood.
For residents of Glencoe and Ravenswood circles, directly across Bluemound Road from the college, parking has already become "unbearable," in the words of one. They complain of cars parked so close to the corners that they can't see traffic as they come onto Bluemound, and worry that emergency vehicles won't have access if they're needed.
After a meeting with the college and Ravenswood residents last week, Public Works Director William Porter said he would look into parking regulations that are on the books now that might control, for example, parking at a corner, and the college said it would continue to explore the option of a shuttle. Porter said he would ask the Fire Department to explore the access issue. And he mentioned other options to control parking, such as limiting parking to two hours, for example.
"It was a very productive meeting,." Ravenswood resident Dain Maddox said. "It was a good start, and there will be more."
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