From skate parks to Gov. Scott Walker's short-lived run for president, Wauwatosa has seen its fair share of news in 2015. As we enter 2016, we reflect on the greatest issues in the city over the last year.
1. Coyote attacks prompt public discourse
The first coyote attack on a small pet occurred in September. A second attack and a suspected third happened in the weeks that followed the first. The public became worried about the safety of their pets and small children, demanding solutions, while wildlife activists said killing off the animals was not a realistic solution. A public meeting was held in October to answer questions about the predators, but no solutions were presented by city leaders. A city committee began discussions on adopting a coyote management plan in December.
2. Walker runs for president, drops out
Wauwatosa residents watched with mixed emotions as Gov. Scott Walker, who calls the city home, launched a presidential run in July. A Wauwatosa resident since 1993, Walker can often be seen around the city, including at the East Tosa Gran Prix bike race, just days before he was expected to announce his presidential bid. Local residents again reacted with mixed emotions when news spread the former top-tier candidate was suspending his presidential campaign, ending his run for the White House.
3. Man brandishing sword killed by Wauwatosa cop
Antonio A. Gonzales, 29, was killed by Wauwatosa police July 16 after he refused officers' commands to drop his weapon. Police Chief Barry Weber said during a news conference July 17 the officers "acted with courage and conducted themselves properly." The two police officers placed on administrative leave following the death of Gonzales returned to work Aug. 25. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office later revealed it would not pursue criminal charges against the officers involved in the incident.
4. Girl scouts bring holiday train to Wauwatosa
The willpower of two young Wauwatosa girl scouts, Michela Miller and Madison Sveum, was strong enough to stop the Canadian Pacific Holiday train in Wauwatosa Dec. 4. The girl scouts advocated for months to bring the train to the city, in exchange for food donations to Tosa Cares. Thousands of people streamed into the Wauwatosa Village to attend the event that was kicked off by the Village's Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
5. Tosa Skate Park opens
After years of fundraising, skateboarders and enthusiasts gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Tosa Skate Park at Hart Park in Wauwatosa mid-August. The project finally won bid approval in July and thanks to the contributions from the city, an anonymous donor and funds raised by enthusiasts, the skate park opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 7.
6. Ex-Tosa police officer receives $77k settlement
The city of Wauwatosa and its insurance carrier agreed to a $77,000 settlement with a former city police officer who maintained she was sexually harassed by other department members. The former cop, Robin Schumacher, and the city reached the settlement in July after she filed a discrimination complaint with the state Department of Workforce Development, alleging repeated harassment, based on sexual orientation, by other officers and command staff. The city's insurer's attorney argues that Schumacher left the job to avoid being terminated for "her admittedly illegal conduct and multiple rule violations."
7. Dry cleaner sagas
The Wauwatosa Common Council rejected a zoning change in June that would have allowed on-site dry cleaning at the former City Market building at 8725 W. North Avenue. The property had already been purchased by Westwood Dry Cleaners. In a separate dry cleaning-related story, Vogue dry cleaning, housed in a building referred to as an "eyesore" by neighbors located at Wauwatosa Avenue and Clark Street, was demolished in May. The building operated as a dry cleaner from 1962 to 2006 and caused extensive contamination on the site with chlorinated solvents and other chemicals.
8. State Street Station garners approval
TIF District No. 11 in Wauwatosa received approval from the Wauwatosa Common Council in September. The area included within the district covers the entirety of the State Street Station project — a four-story retail and apartment building planned for 7400 W. State St. City committees approved the final project plans and terms of financial assistance in July for the State Street Station. The developer, HSI Properties, had previously said they were unsure of whether the $41 million project would need financial assistance. The development is to include 148 luxury apartments, about 20,000 square feet of retail space, 255 underground residential parking spaces and 85 ground-level public parking spaces.
9. Face-lift planned for Wauwatosa Village
In May residents were invited to attend a preliminary design workshop for a project that will implement streetscaping elements in the Wauwatosa Village like lighting and street furniture; bike and pedestrian accommodations like crosswalks and bike lanes; signage; reconstruction of intersections; and renovations of Pocket Park and Root Common. The project passed through the city's common council in August and design work is currently underway.
10. SOS makes headlines
An advocacy group in the Wauwatosa School District, Support Our Schools Wauwatosa (SOS), made headlines many times in 2015. Group members lobbied Sen. Leah Vukmir for more education funding in the state budget in April. SOS members brought their message to several other listening sessions with their lawmakers, including an earlier meeting with Vukmir in Brookfield, and a session with Rep. Dale Kooyenga in Wauwatosa. The group was later criticized in two letters to the editor that ran in NOW Newspapers.