Rozek focused on attracting small businesses

BY MADELINE WILSON —

There are two seats on the village board up for election on April 5. There are three candidates for the two seats: Tammy Bockhorst, incumbent village trustee, Dillon Grimes and Allison Rozek.

Rozek has lived in Shorewood for five years and has a son in sixth grade at Lake Bluff. Rozek owns a local retail and furniture consignment business, Swanky Seconds, and is a member of the business improvement district board.

Rozek has experience working for former mayor John Norquist’s wife, Susan Mudd, lobbying around the state for favorable zoning codes. She later worked for Norquist to write Milwaukee’s first comprehensive plan and under current mayor Tom Barret, worked with tax increment finance districts and economic developments for the city of Milwaukee. In addition, she headed the river walk development program to maintain public access to the river fronts. Following that, she worked in the Milwaukee County budget office, managing the district attorney’s budget along with the behavioral health division’s budget. In Madison, she served as an administrator for the department of workforce development.

One of Rozek’s goals, if elected, is to maintain and draw more small businesses to Shorewood.

“I’d like to attract local businesses and retain the ones we have,” Rozek said.

Rozek does not think the small business loan program is effective and would like to improve it.

“I don’t believe the way it is structured is helpful for businesses that want to expand or stay in Shorewood so I’d like to restructure that program,” Rozek said.

In addition, Rozek would like to attract more small businesses with a small business loan guarantee program.

“I also want to introduce a small business loan guarantee program where you work with a local bank and you pull together a financing package and all the village has to do is provide a guarantee for up to five years with a loan. Then we go out and offer that to small businesses to attract them to our community … With that package you can go after the businesses that are startups, people in the community that want to start a business so it’s more community focused,” Rozek said.

Rozek believes that tax incremental financing (TIF), subsidies for development, has been rightfully utilized by the village board in 1995 and 2007 when commercial property and housing values were decreasing. However, she thinks that subsidies like TIF districts are no longer needed in Shorewood today and would like to see them closed.

“I would like to see less money going out the door in forms of subsidy for large developers,” Rozek said. “Shorewood is an attractive, inviting community. Our market is stable. We can attract high rents and support that. We have the disposable income, some of our residents have that income, that they could support that element. I just believe that it’s a different day. Our market is different than it was in 2007. At this point I think we need to back off, close out our existing TIF districts, so stop giving out the subsidies, close them out as soon as possible so we can obtain the tax revenue that we have been waiting for since 1995.”

Rozek would like to stop subsidies for larger developers but would consider implementing subsidies for affordable senior housing.

“I would consider giving a public subsidy for lower to mid income senior housing because I believe that there is a big demand for condominiums or nice apartments that are affordable for our seniors in our community. It is very hard to attract market rate private developers to build for people with less income because they don’t make as much money,” Rozek said.

Rozek is against any form of development along the west side of Wilson Drive because it would reduce the community’s already limited green space.

“I am 100% percent against any type of developments: private, residential or commercial along the west side of Wilson Drive,” Rozek said. “Shorewood is on the very low end of the national average for green space … We don’t have a lot of open space yet we are the most densely populated community in the state. When you have that much density, you need areas where people can go and relax and feel like they’re part of nature. We don’t have a lot of that. We have a shore and we have woods: Shore-wood. So if you take away the woods, what do you have?”

According to Rozek, she opposes narrowing Wilson Drive as part of its reconstruction because it provides a possibility for future development.

“If you move the curb, you are opening up the potential to develop the west side of Wilson Drive because you are adding more space for development … It gives the opportunity for it to happen even five years down the road. So, as long as you can keep those curb lines where they’re at, there is no chance of development because there is not enough space for development to occur,” Rozek said.

One idea Rozek is considering to make Wilson Drive safer after its reconstruction, is narrowing the traffic lanes without narrowing the street.

“I am all for making the lanes smaller if it is warranted by traffic studies because smaller lanes create slower traffic and slower traffic is better for pedestrians,” Rozek said.

Another option Rozek sees in the reconstruction of Wilson Drive is the creation of boulevards in the center of busy intersections.

“I would listen to the conversation about putting boulevards at the intersections in the middle … That gives the same effect of narrowing the traffic lanes but it is not moving the curbs,” Rozek said.

According to Rozek, the school and village boards could have further collaboration by doing joint bidding for services such as employee benefits to get better prices.

“There are things that we should be doing together to help [budget wise],” Rozek said. “For services that we both utilize we should be doing joint bidding … The bigger your group is the better price you get for services.”

According to Rozek, Davida Amenta, village trustee, has worked to improve public awareness of the happenings in the Village Board. Should Rozek become a village trustee, she would like to continue to improve public awareness.

“Since … trustee [Amenta] got elected, she’s been very successful at increasing public awareness of meetings and public input sessions. For instance, recently, [residents] got a postcard in the mail that said we are doing a meeting on the police station and on the ghost train. There was a great turnout and people appreciated that small, cheap 10 cent postcard because that gave them awareness other than having to look on the website and check the minutes,” Rozek said.

To make them more accessible to residents, Rozek would like to see the village board videotape their meetings.

“I fully believe that implementing the videotaping proposal, which would videotape the meetings, would go a long way in helping the public be informed because then they can watch the meeting and see the facial expressions on their own time,” Rozek said.

As a trustee, Rozek would listen to everyone, whether she agrees with them or not.

“Everybody has a voice here … It is about every resident that lives in Shorewood,” Rozek said.

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