As downtown bickering over street closures continues, especially for Freeman Friday Night Live’s summer music events, the Waukesha Common Council agreed to form a downtown taskforce that will address concerns related to events that occur in the central business district.
After a lengthy discussion and mixed public comment, the following people were appointed to the taskforce:
- Norm Bruce; Business Improvement District Board President
- Roger Igielski; Downtown Business Association President
- Lynn Gaffey; West End Artists Director
- Alderman Eric Payne
- Alderman Roger Patton
- Alderman Steve Johnson
- Alderman Joe Pieper
- Vicky Hekkers; downtown resident and property owner
- Jim Taylor; Co-owner of People’s Park
- Alan Huelsman downtown property owner
- Mayor Jeff Scrima (chairman with ability to break a tie vote)
Payne and Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings voted against creating the group. Payne said he wanted people who “aren’t front page news” on the taskforce.
Cummings, though, blasted Mayor Jeff Scrima because she made a referral to discuss the street closures and it took 35 days for anything to move forward, she said.
The taskforce will be unable to complete the necessary work by April 1 as plans move forward for the summer weekly music events, Cummings said.
“You are asking a group of people that has behavior as such that they aren’t going to be able to accomplish this in eight weeks,” Cummings said. “… I hope that this taskforce is able to be just like Speedy Gonzales and just move through and address all these issues and concerns. But in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe it will. Nothing in the past behavior indicates to me that they will. And we will be sitting here again with these same issues again and again.”
Cummings was frustrated about many issues with the taskforce. One issue she had was a document with the names of people on the taskforce being given to members of the public before she received a copy of it.
“I was at Starbucks and I asked Patch, can I read that document?” Cummings said.
Later she commented about the document itself. She also said she was not given respect by not originally receiving the document from the mayor.
“Frankly for transparency, I have got a document that is not even signed,” Cummings said. “It does not state it is from the office of the mayor. It is not signed. I assume it is from the mayor. So much for transparency.”
Scrima commented that Cummings received the document 10 days ago and that his administrative assistant called her three weeks ago to set up a meeting but that Cummings had replied she was too busy with three jobs. Cummings responded to Scrima that she had told the administrative assistant to call her back the next week.
Public Reaction to Downtown Taskforce
Chris VanderBloomen, a BID board member who has publicly opposed the street closures for events, said there are members on the group are not willing for a compromise.
“Put some other people on instead of the same old people,” she said.
Gaffey, though, felt the group was well represented.
“I think it was well thought out and I think we should move forward with it,” she said.
Taylor said he’s willing to work with those of differing viewpoints on the taskforce.
“Friday Night Live truthfully won’t affect our sales on those evenings,” Taylor said about Friday Night Live. “I have a more of a long term goal for my restaurant and for downtown Waukesha.”