Cake Celebration
The quote chosen for the cake celebrating the rollout of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy was an apt description of the various city agencies, law enforcement, business owners, community groups, and residents coming together to improve the neighborhood.

A celebratory cake with an inspiring message welcomed representatives from Lincoln Village to the Basilica lower church hall, fittingly setting the tone and mood of this community gathering.

“Coming Together is the Beginning.

Keeping Together is the Progress.

Working Together is the Success.”

                                    — Henry Ford

After a series of well-attended meetings over the last eight months, facilitated by Milwaukee’s Department of City Development (DCD), a diverse group of partners, united in a common goal, convened once again on June 27 for the purpose of presenting the conclusions of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy.

DCD representative address Lincoln Village representatives
Samuel Leichtling, of the city’s Department of City Development (DCD), addresses the group gathered to hear the recommendations of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy.
Police Captain Ramirez addresses group.
Captain Alex Ramirez, head of the Second District Milwaukee Police Department, talks about law enforcement in Lincoln Village.

This special occasion highlighted the momentum, commitment and kinship of the team of interested stakeholders focused on a revival of the area. The campaign began with the first open discussion back in November 2018, and continued throughout the winter and spring, including cold winter walks through Kosciuszko Park and surrounding streets. The focus of all this collaboration was what we can do together as a community to improve the Lincoln Village neighborhood.

The recommendations of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy focused on six specific areas of interest:

  1. Using the Basilica as a community gathering or event space.
  2. Organizing the businesses in the Lincoln Avenue Commercial Corridor so that they work together to address key issues and develop a strategy to make the Corridor more appealing.
  3. Streetscaping (i.e. street beautification) to physically enhance the corridor and make it more attractive to businesses and customers.
  4. Priority Properties (i.e. facade improvements) improving the exteriors of some of the commercial buildings along the corridor to make it more attractive and welcoming for businesses and consumers.
  5. Code Enforcement by the various City of Milwaukee departments needs to be more adequate and consistent.
  6. Safety in Kosciuszko Park; improving the image of the Park and ensuring safety and comfort for all its visitors is imperative for the Lincoln Village Neighborhood.
Ted Chisholm addresses group.
Ted Chisholm, Chief of Staff for Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, tells the assembly how to access assistance from the Sheriff’s department in Kosciuszko Park, where the department has jurisdiction.
Alderman Perez chats up Alderman Zielinski before the District 14 councilman heads out.
Alderman José Pérez (District 12) (right) confers with AldermanTony Zielinski (District 14) before the latter is called away before the meeting’s end.

As the meeting began in the lower church hall, a group of over 50 engaged stakeholders assembled in a large circle and were welcomed by Aldermen José Pérez (District 12) and Tony Zielinski (District 14). Sam Leichtling of the DCD once again led the meeting and introduced each of ten speakers representing the Department of Public Works, the Department of Neighborhood Services, the Milwaukee Police Department, Lincoln Village Business Association, the St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation, Milwaukee County Parks, Potential “Friends of” Kosciuszko Park, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, Sixteenth Street Community Health Center and the DCD, all working collectively toward a common goal. Each of the speakers briefly outlined next steps to be taken in their strategy, asking how the larger group can help them ensure success, and to share contact information to allow other parties to let them know if things aren’t working as planned.

After the last speaker had sat down and just before the meeting adjourned to mingle over cake, an accomplished and influential (and rapt) audience member was moved to rise from his chair and share an outsider’s fresh perspective of what he had just witnessed. J. Michael Mooney, Co-founder, Chairman and a Principal of MLG Capital, an investment and development company, has more than 50 years of experience in the diverse and often complex brokerage, consulting and planning business. His voice gushed with enthusiasm and support.

Mike Mooney addresses the group.
J. Michael Mooney, Co-founder, Chairman and a Principal of MLG Capital, lauds the efforts of the assembled group to improve Lincoln Village.
Attendees of the rollout meeting of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy rollout.
Representatives from various city agencies enjoy a moment at the rollout meeting of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy.

“I want to be your cheerleader!” he said. “It’s absolutely awesome your commitment and your efforts. Keep on keeping on! And remember the Basilica is a magical catalyst, your saving grace and your magic stone! It’ll be in your selfish best interests to keep it that way!”

Mooney’s buoyant message capped off a substantive 90-minute session that included many positive actions planned for the future. To be sure, the fomenting words of Henry Ford were a fitting reminder of what has been accomplished over the past eight months: the Lincoln Village community came together initially, bonded together throughout the long process and are emboldened to continue to work together to ensure the success of the Lincoln Village Opportunity Strategy.