July 15, 2004
Mr. Daniel J. Cohen
Re: File #031752, TIF #55, Holt Plaza in the 14th Aldermanic District - HOME DEPOT
Thank you for sitting down with us to assist our work with the Bay View Neighborhood Association. It is the mission of the BVNA to enhance the quality of life for its residents. It was a pleasure to meet you. We appreciate your courtesies.
We had suggested to Alderman Tony Zielinski that we meet with a Home Depot representative in the light of the TIF recently approved by the City of Milwaukee. Tax subsidies are not available to home grown businesses or residents and, therefore, deserve the attention of the taxpayers who will be helping Home Depot take its place in our neighborhood. We noted in the meeting that the City Comptroller was reluctant to recommend the TIF on this proposal.
In response to our suggestion that Home Depot install a green roof, you replied that you would take our technical information to the corporate office, and while you could not speak for them on this issue, you described Home Depot as “forward thinking” with a sense of “corporate responsibility” as indicated by their involvement in supporting nonprofit ventures. You pointed out that the corporation would probably not change its sales and marketing culture without a long and deliberative process. We asked you suggest to the officers that its Bay View site be considered an experiment, not requiring the thorough deliberation that a corporate-wide change entails. We do not consider water quality to be a negotiable agenda; this item must be on everyone’s agenda. Many people I know, including myself, are planning rain gardens in their own city lots.
The green roof is a water reservoir. By installing a soil base, and plants on top of a building, the green roof delays rain water that would otherwise flow directly into the sewers. An effective delay requires that the water will flow into the soil slowly, after the rain stops.
We pointed out that water resources are in jeopardy because of the fact that much of our rain water is not allowed to percolate down into the soil, a result of concrete and asphalt development throughout the metropolitan area. Water quality issues are looming large in the entire Metropolitan area; Home Depot is in a good place to make a significant contribution and encourage other large scale developments to do likewise. Home Depot’s large flat roof construction is both a danger to good water, as well as an opportunity to lead the way in water conservation. We hope Home Depot is up to the challenge. We believe that an experiment with your site in Bay View would be received with great appreciation by the residents.
In addition to technical information on the green roof technology, we also brought you information about permeable parking surfaces, designed also to allow rain water to filter through the soil before being returned to the aquifers.
You graciously accepted our material and promised to present them to Home Depot executives.
You also stated that the architectural drawings, at hand, showing dozens of trees was “fairly accurate.” We accept that assessment as a commitment to plant as many trees, or more.
Safety. In the light of the design of the Home Depot store, with warehouse style inventory, sometimes stacked four pallets high, and the tragic failure of one of these stacks in another Home Depot a few years back, we asked you to request of Home Depot that each customer be offered a construction quality hard hat upon entering the store. You promised to take this request to corporate. We said frankly, we don’t want any accidents of this type in Bay View.
Discussing Bay View development generally, it happened that you mentioned that you represent the current owners of the former Kohl’s store on Kinnickinnic Avenue, a matter of great interest to us and our colleagues. We noted a discussion in Bay View to encourage a natural food store to locate there. Given the strong demographics of Bay View, a natural food store would seem to be a good fit. Mr. Zielinski expressed the belief that the elderly would not use a natural food store as the price of milk, bread, eggs and other staples would be higher and perhaps out of reach. With all due respect to our elected official, that opinion is contradicted by the very success of the revived Groppis food store, and the fact that Kohl’s itself was more expensive on the whole than the warehouse grocery stores. Nor is the Groppis store on a bus line that is as convenient to most of Bay View as the Kohl’s store is. Pick’n Save is not served by County transit. As a senior citizen, I can tell you that price does not trump all other concerns.
We appreciate your commitment to be available to the BVNA as the project proceeds, and would welcome your associates to contact us.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to voice some issues we are avidly discussing in the Association. Particularly as you have two clients whose work interests us. I believe these discussions should have been held earlier, through no fault of your own or that of our present alderman. Having clarified to Mr. Zielinski our need for timely information from the City, we are positive the BVNA will become an asset to the neighborhood, and to commercial enterprises who elect to take advantage of our perspective and good will. We advocate for the needs of all residents, families, elderly, empty nesters, and those who rely on public transportation.
Jolena Kraszka Presti and William Sell
cc: Alderman Tony Zielinski
Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee
Executive Committee of the Bay View Neighborhood Association
cc: Home Depot
Brad Shaw, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & External Affairs
William Patterson, Division President, Central
Eric Peterson, President, Strategic Markets
The Home Depot Inc.