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Tuesdays vote on Karl Campus is a vote for our Jewish communitys future
November 1st, 2002
By Stephen L. Chernof
Special to The Chronicle
Tuesday is Election Day, a chance to cast your vote for the men and women who will lead our government. Coincidentally, that day is also your chance to participate in another democratic process, one of keen interest to our Jewish community: a public hearing to help decide the fate of proposed improvements to the Karl Jewish Community Campus in Whitefish Bay.
On Tuesday, the Village of Whitefish Bay will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. at Whitefish Bay High School on E. Fairmount Ave. The village is asking interested citizens to attend the hearing and comment on whether or not the village should approve the Milwaukee Jewish Federations proposed changes to the Karl Campus.
I will be there, as will many others committed to the future of our community. I hope you will also attend and stand with us in support of a project that will better so many lives, for so many years to come.
When the Milwaukee Jewish Federation took ownership of the Karl Campus in 1985, the property had housed boys schools for nearly 70 years. Today, the campus is home to agencies providing services that nourish the well-being of people from all walks of life from newborns to senior citizens. Those agencies, and the people they serve, have thrived despite daily struggles posed by the 85-year-old buildings crazy-quilt layout, labyrinth hallways and crowding.
The success of Karl Campus agencies in the face of the campus many limitations is a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of agency staffs and volunteers. We cannot, however, allow those limitations to compromise the future vitality of these shared community resources and those they serve.
Thats why, nearly two years ago, we embarked on a mission to enhance and improve the Karl Jewish Community Campus. Among other changes, those plans call for upgraded buildings and grounds for Hillel Academy, Milwaukee Jewish Day School and Childrens Lubavitch Living and Learning Center.
In the south building, a new central entrance and lobby would improve traffic flow, parking and access to senior and childcare services. Plans also call for renovating the aquatic center, fitness center, Ritz Theater, classrooms, medical center and childcare areas. The reconfiguration will free up space for new family and youth centers. Outside, we plan to add an outdoor swimming pool.
Most important, these enhancements would ensure that the campus serve as a vital resource for Milwaukees Jewish community, a place where we share heritage and culture, find strength and foster our commitment to one another.
Help shape our future
As important as those benefits are, we would not want them to come at the expense of our neighbors. Accordingly, we have taken extraordinary steps to honor the needs and concerns of the families who share our Whitefish Bay neighborhood.
With their guidance, we have designed our campus changes to maintain and even enhance the unique, residential character of our neighborhood. We have gone to great lengths to answer every conceivable question and concern, sharing facts through mailings, newspaper ads, open houses, forums, home visits and even expert studies of the projects likely impact on traffic, noise, light, property values and storm water.
Our resulting plans perfectly balance the interests of our neighbors and the obvious need for essential changes to the campus.
Even so, we face opposition. Determined opponents continue to urge officials in Whitefish Bay and Fox Point to deny approvals necessary for the Karl Campus improvement project. If those opponents prevail, the project cannot proceed.
Thats where you come in. Just as those who vote on Tuesday on Election Day will shape the future of our government, those at the public hearing that day will shape the future of the Jewish community.
Our opponents will be there in force, armed with signs, misinformation and groundless fears. They are hoping that their fierce determination to stop this project is stronger than our collective resolve to build it.
I know, and you know, otherwise. Now each and every one of us must voice our support to the elected officials who will decide the future of the Karl Campus.
If you live in Whitefish Bay or Fox Point, please plan to join us Tuesday evening in a show of strength and solidarity. And no matter where you live, please send a letter to each of the villages urging approval of the campus project.
Together, we will create the Jewish community campus that will enrich lives for generations to come.
Stephen L. Chernof is chair of the Milwaukee Jewish Federations steering committee for the Karl Jewish Community Campus Development Project.