Greendale trustee candidates respond to issues

Published on: 3/25/2014

Greendale — After winning the primary election, four candidates — including two incumbents — will compete for two seats on the Village Board in the spring election April 1.

Greendale resident Donna Ouellette received the most votes in the primary, ahead of incumbents James Birmingham and Gregory Turay as well as resident Bill Kewan.

With the election right around the corner, NOW asked the candidates to participate in a Q-and-A segment via email.

Candidates were given identical questions and asked to answer them within a week, abiding by a 50-word limit. In cases where that limit was exceeded, answers have been edited.

NOW: All four of you opposed an apartment complex in the downtown area at the February forum, but some were open to the prospect of locating the complex somewhere else. How would you balance Greendale development with the village's historical status?

Birmingham: The residential area of downtown Historic Greendale was planned and completed decades ago; we should not try to piece in more apartments or housing units into this area. If we need to look at development of housing units, we could look at the Southridge Mall area.

Kewan: Greendale has always been a model of careful planning. New development and redevelopment is healthy for any community, but not at the expense of historic structures or our National Historic Landmark award, and the tax credits which accompany that award. Thoughtful planning and smart decisions will respect the historic district.

Ouellette: I would like to keep the integrity of our village historical. I am for development of condominiums, office parks, retail or apartments in the area that has always been designated for development, which is near Southridge and the 76th Street Corridor. There are still plenty of opportunities in that area.

Turay: I am open to reviewing alternatives to what, if any, development would be suitable in the downtown. I am not if favor of tax-incremental financing for any development that would be a strain on the schools and village services without having some form of payment to offset any increased costs.

NOW: There has been a lot of discussion revolving around the village's Hose Tower and Fire and Police building in terms of preserving the community's historical identity. Do you have any other ideas for projects that would preserve Greendale's history?

Birmingham: Create a Greendale Historical Museum, perhaps using one of the remaining historical buildings. Create a historical walk-and-talk tour of Greendale on weekends in the summer.

Kewan: Collecting and displaying historical artifacts in the Hose Tower Building would preserve Greendale's history. I support the school district's Urban Forestry Program. Our walking paths, green spaces and wooded areas offer many teachable lessons. Through more educational outreach programs, students, adults and tourists will appreciate Greendale's unique 75 year history.

Ouellette: I would like to bring the former Police Station back on the tax roll by having a business renovate it and to have it be vibrant and occupied. We have ordinances for all buildings to stay historical. I like the direction the hose tower is going and support this project.

Turay: There have been draft alternatives to retaining the Police Station and integrating patio space adjoining the hose tower and revitalizing the area surrounding it. I am in favor of working with the Historical Society to repurpose the tower. I favor retaining walking paths through the Village Center and surrounding neighborhoods.

NOW: As discussion continues about how to resolve the issue of polling locations in Greendale schools, how would you ensure that a line of communication remains intact moving into the future?

Birmingham: It is important this issue be resolved. The village manager and board are discussing with the schools possible solutions, including having the school look at having teacher in-service dates on the two or three election dates, allowing schools to be empty, and having several polling places located at non-school buildings.

Kewan: Listen to each other and be open to new solutions. On March 18th, I spoke at the Trustee meeting offering a zero-cost solution. Simply hold teacher in service days on election days. The students would be gone from the school buildings and security would not be an issue.

Ouellette: Direct meetings need to be initiated between the Village Board and School Board to come to a resolution. Many residents are not in favor of relocating the polling stations, they are for increased safety and police presence. The easiest way would be to have school closed on the voting days.

Turay: I am involved with Greendale School District officials and administration to keep abreast their concerns about this issue. I also attend school functions as a trustee and concerned resident with respect to the safety of our children. I am sure we will resolve this issue on a reasonable basis soon.