Greendale — Opponents of Southridge Mall's decision to move its bus stop will gather Saturday, April 19, for a demonstration they labeled as an "Easter Promenade."
It's part of a continuing effort to convince Southridge Mall officials that they made a mistake in deciding to move the mall's bus stop for four routes from the Sears entrance to a back corner of its property Nov. 1.
Simon Property Group, the mall's owner, stated the move was to improve safety for customers, but opponents of the new bus stop argue that its location, approximately 1,000 feet from the Sears entrance, pose an even greater risk for the elderly and disabled.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik is the coordinator for the Bus User Safety at Southridge Coalition, or B.U.S.S., which argues that Simon's policy to move the bus stop farther away from Southridge discriminates against some transit users.
To keep garnering support for its cause, B.U.S.S. participants will meet at the north side of the Southridge parking lot at noon and walk "politely and orderly" along West Edgerton Avenue, which faces the mall from the sidewalk of Greenfield, Jursik said. The promenade is expected to end before 2 p.m.
The event was intentionally scheduled for Holy Saturday, when the Judeo-Christian community reflects on the importance of values as they commemorate Passover and the Easter Triduum of prayer and preparation, Jursik said.
Jursik encouraged those attending the event to wear their Easter bonnets as a sign of support.
"We really need to draw a line in the sand on this," Jursik said. "If we don't stop (the bus route change) at Southridge, you will see other malls and large commercial operations do it, too. We need to bring this to a head."
Southridge management did not wish to make a comment regarding the demonstration.
Strong feelings on issue
Jursik said that more than 1,000 signatures have been collected for a B.U.S.S. petition to move the bus stop back to its original location closer to the mall and that the organization has "several irons in the fire" for fighting back if negotiations are not met.
She said the mall's decision to move the bus stop "violated the values" of Milwaukee County.
"People in Milwaukee County are better than this," Jursik said. "Nobody driving a handicapped person to Southridge would drop them off far from the mall and say, 'You can walk from here.'"
Since the coalition was formed in December, B.U.S.S. has gained support from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a majority of the county's supervisors and several other organizations, including Milwaukee County's Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Commission on Aging.
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, which recently announced its decision to relocate its headquarters to Greendale, is one of the most recent advocates for the B.U.S.S. coalition.
"The mall hasn't changed their response at all (to us), but we've made great progress," Jursik said. "We're gathering a lot of support and our message continues to grow. We need to keep the public aware of this problem and emphasize that Southridge needs to fix this (policy)."
"I haven't had one person call me and tell me that Southridge moving its bus stop was a good idea," she added.