Jenifer Street façade improvements and parking lot resurfacing, including the installation of a driveway onto Jenifer Street, was communicated to our immediate neighbors in a letter dated August 2nd, 2010. In that letter we informed them of the decision to install the driveway in part to mitigate Williamson Street reconstruction that will at times prevent all access to the store from Williamson Street.

In the letter we invited them to a meeting on August 16th to share plans and discuss this significant work slated to start this fall. At the meeting, several viewpoints were expressed including those who are in support of a temporary installation of the driveway and those that are adamantly opposed under any circumstance. We heard some helpful ideas on how to address their concerns about long-term use of the driveway, safety, and property values on the 1200 block of Jenifer Street. From that meeting it was recommended that we form a driveway advisory committee of concerned individuals who represent the interests of neighboring businesses, residents, as well as city staff to evaluate the long-term impacts and management of the Jenifer St. driveway. Willy Street Co-op management has elected to delay the use of the driveway for car traffic until work with the ad hoc committee has been completed.

In 1999, the Co-op relocated to 1221 Williamson Street; annual sales at that time were $4,100,000 with an Owner base of 4,500 and 54 total staff. In the nearly 11 years since the Co-op relocated to 1221, annual sales have grown to $20,000,000, Owners to 20,000 and staff to 160. The neighborhood has become a destination for people who want what we have—our eclectic collection of restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, specialty shops, St. Vinny’s, Ace Hardware, neighborhood festivals, and the farmers’ market are reasons people come here.

Our tremendous success at 1221 has made possible the sponsorship of multiple neighborhood festivals, continued annual support of the Community Reinvestment Fund, establishment of the Eastside Farmers’ Market and the ability to finally open a second retail site.

The Co-op is owned by 20,000 people, and we are here to serve the needs of all Owners, not just those in the immediate area, but all Owners. This is an arduous task and not one that we take lightly. We recognize the installation of a driveway onto Jenny Street is not an idea that everyone will like. The reasons to move forward with this project are real and include better management of vehicle traffic within and around the Co-op, increasing safety and decreasing stress, as well as employing a mechanism to improve storm water run-off and snow melt.

Other steps taken to mitigate stress in the parking lot include encouraging Owners to use our e-commerce site for online shopping and delivery, the recent addition of the Bicycle Benefits program to encourage non-vehicular shopping trips to the Co-op, the removal of one on-street parking stall to provide a dedicated turn lane into the parking lot, and the pursuit of a second retail site.

It should be noted again that the driveway is a critical piece to managing our business during the scheduled 2011 Williamson Street reconstruction. The current street reconstruction project east of the Yahara River surrounding the Jenny Street Market is evidence that many are likely to be negatively impacted by this major rebuilding of the infrastructure in this neighborhood.

Long-term plans for the driveway will be advised by the work of the committee after street reconstruction. Meeting notes will be posted on the Co-op website, and additional updates will be included in my report.    

The three vacancies on the Board will be filled by George Hofheimer, Michele Dickinson, and Sonia Marie Kubica in order of the number of votes cast. The new Board is seated at the October Board meeting. Thank you to those who voted!

The Eat Local Challenge (Aug. 15th–Sept. 15th) is in full swing. We are half-way through the month. How are you doing on your eat local challenge?

Things are really beginning to happen at the Middleton location. I encourage you to check out our project manager’s blog if you are interested in the progress of Willy West—you can log onto www.willystreet.coop/blog/phil_ward for updates and information.

Joseph Weinberg & Associates

Ian Colin MacAllister

Dharma for Kids

Eastside Veterinary Clinic

Spa Woof

Waterdu Tree Care