Thursday, January 29, 2015

Milwaukee suburbs could see improvements based on city suggestions

Nice that Republican legislators Senator Alberta Darling from River Hills and Representative Dale Kooyenga from Brookfield have opened their minds and hearts to help Milwaukee address the socio-economic problems made even tougher in Milwaukee by decades of suburban economic and racial exclusion.

Surely the suburbanites will welcome an infusion of concern and ideas flowing the other way, as the 'burbs have their problems, too, and folks in the city can help supply answers.

*  Transit disconnects. The municipalities and counties surrounding Milwaukee need far better transit services, especially for their young people and seniors. The suburbs should push for the reinstitution of  regional transit authorities which the Republican legislature recently eliminated, and should plan and finance both additional bus and, why not?, new light rail services, across the entire region - - and certainly to bring suburbanites in and out of Milwaukee.

City dwellers would not treat these suburbanites as strangers: the interactions would good for everyone.

*  Affordable housing. The suburbs have a crying need for housing which working families can afford, and many urban housing choices can be duplicated in the suburbs. Key zoning changes would single-family homes on lots that are not designed for McMansions, and multi-unit structures which some suburbs have fought tooth-and-nail should be encouraged.

*  Higher-performing schools. Some suburban schools underperform teaching students about our increasingly multi-cultural state, country and world. City schools have the experience to provide new partnerships; better transit connections could help cement these new relationships, connect with transit improvements and affordable housing outside of the city, too.

I've spent hundreds of hours in our neighboring communities and the housing, educational and transit deficits there should be acknowledged, attacked and ameliorated by open-minded planning and enthusiastic approval of laws and codes to make life in our region better for everyone.

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