As we near the conclusion of 2019, I think we should take a moment to reflect on the year. As with most years, 2019 surely brought some challenges, but there were several beautiful and powerful moments in this community that we all should celebrate.
Shorewood Fire Station. The Village settled on an agreement with the North Shore Fire Department to sell them the building and begin renovations. While there were several factors involved with this sale, there are many wins for Shorewood and the North Shore. Most importantly, our dedicated public servants at the Shorewood Fire Station will receive a much needed improved facility. The facade of this historic building will be preserved. The awarded bid for renovating the building came in $759,000 less than the cost estimate, which is a huge cost savings for the entire North Shore. It certainly will be a joy to watch the progress on the building and see the final product. Thank you to all the fire and emergency personnel for your service to our community.
Infrastructure Improvements. Construction crews were busy in Shorewood in 2019 completing several infrastructure improvements. Several neighborhood blocks gained much needed alley improvements. Some of the alleys also received some green improvements, incorporating stormwater quality features. The sidewalk replacement program took place in the north-west section of the Village this year, improving a number of sidewalks in that area. The 4200 block of N. Woodburn St. received a new water main as the Village and several property owners replaced their lead lateral service lines. The Atwater Park stairs were replaced and look amazing! Public Works certainly was busy in 2019, and we thank them for their efforts coordinating all these projects amid their other daily tasks.
The Lange Donation to the Library. Elaine and Larry Lange left a $5.5 million donation to the Shorewood Public Library this year after both passing away in 2018. Thirty percent of the donation will go toward a permanent endowment fund. The principal investment will never be spent while the interest will be used to enhance existing programs that are currently funded through the operating budget. Another 30% of the donation will go toward a "2040 fund" designated for a new building or a major building remodel. The remaining 40% of the $5.5 million donation will go toward a board-directed reserve fund. This is an extremely generous gift from the Lange's. We thank them for their generosity. We also thank the Library and all staff in the Village Center for their continued efforts in making that space such an amazing and inclusive location for all community members. (Link to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article)
Valuable Research, Plans, and Studies. The Village received a plethora of information in 2019 to make particular policy and procedural decisions moving forward. Nearly 900 community members provided their input on the community survey, which touched a number of services and policy questions. The Village invested in a Transportation and Parking Study (view draft report here) to offer a number of recommendations to improve traffic flow, safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and brainstorm safer and more options for community members to park their vehicles. The Community Development Authority (CDA) is working with a consultant on a Housing Market Analysis (presentation December 19 @ 6:30 p.m. in Village Center) to evaluate the housing market and potential housing options for current and future Shorewood residents. The Senior Resource Center and Shorewood Connects worked together to create an Age-Friendly Plan, which was adopted by the Village Board. A survey showed an overwhelming support for moving our Atwater beach and our parks to smoke free, which Village and North Shore Health Department staff is in the process of working on a proposal for Village Board consideration in 2020. Lastly, a number of studies presented some energy efficiency improvements in a few of our public buildings. Some of the solar and LED lighting facility improvements will be completed in 2020 or shortly after.
Community Events & Resources. One of the things that makes Shorewood so great are the community events. The Fourth of July parade and fireworks, Summer Sounds, Night of the Ghost Train, Farmer's Market, Shorewood Men's Club Barbeque, Shorewood Shenanigans, Criterium Bike Race, WinterFest, Shorewood Chill, the annual Trick-or-Treating, the Spring and Fall Clean ups, the Shorewood Women's Club Rummage and Bake Sale, the Shorewood Foundation Shark Tank, Ped and Bike Safety Month, the Environmental Film Festival, National Night Out, Boutique Blowout, and Barktoberfest are just some of the community events....just to name a few! We welcomed the Shorewood Feast and On the Table as two new events for our community this year. Finally, the Shorewood Historical Society installed more birthday markers as well as initiated the digitization of newspaper archives dating back to 1923. Hopefully we can continue to have these wonderful community events and resources that bring us together to appreciate our extraordinary Village.
Police Enforcement & Public Safety. The Police Department continues to perform a variety of enforcement throughout the Village to assure we are safe and community members are obeying the laws. Officers dressed up as pedestrians to assure motorists yield to pedestrians entering the crosswalk. The department continues to enforce a number of areas where residents expressed concerns of speeding, rolled stop signs, and bicyclists on the sidewalk. The department is preparing to help enforce properties this winter that fail to clear their sidewalks of snow in a timely fashion. Thank you to all the officers and the entire department for their service and dedication. Lastly, a special thank you with our new Atwater Beach Lifeguard and Crossing Guard partners. Your daily services during the school and summer seasons are extremely vital to our public safety efforts.
Elections & Customer Service. The Clerk and Customer Service Department coordinated a successful back in April for this year's Spring election. A number of residents continue to utilize customer service to process payments for utility bills, property taxes (read below article on additional information), parking, as well as other permits and licenses. A huge thank you to our customer service team (including Municipal Court staff) for responding to a number of resident inquiries on a daily basis. An additional thank you to the election inspectors for their assistance and service with elections.
2020 Village Budget. The Village Board approved the 2020 budget, which incorporated a plethora of hours from staff and officials. The adopted budget inquires a 1.42% increase on the Village's portion of the property tax levy. Some of the new capital funding includes a police squad car, mill and overlay project for the SE quadrant, reconstruction of streets in the Larkin-Marion neighborhood, and other DPW heavy equipment replacement. There is no anticipated rate increases for the Water Utility. The Sewer Utility will experience a rate increase of 18% in anticipation of substantial sewer infrastructure enhancements. Thank you to Finance Director Mark Emanuelson, department heads, and Village Board officials for your time on this budget.
It is important to take the time to celebrate this community's accomplishments. One final thank you needs to go out to our Village Board and volunteer committee members. These individuals pour hours of their time and energy to help make our community a better place to live, work, and play. Enjoy the holiday season, and let's hope for a safe and enjoyable 2020.