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'Stepchildren' none too pleased with neighborhood's conditions

Flooding, lack of property maintenance bring values down in wealthy community

Aug. 25, 2010

River Hills — When people speak of River Hills, one of the wealthiest communities in southeast Wisconsin, rarely do images of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans come to mind.

But that's exactly how three residents living near Green Bay Road view their neighborhood right now.

Diane Klaman, Kathleen Block and Loring Talsky brought photos of flooded yards, houses with tarps on the roof and dead trees to last week's board meeting. Collectively, they are tired of all of it.

"We live in the triangle at Bradley, Green Bay and Range Line roads," said Klaman told trustees. "We are probably considered the stepchildren of River Hills."

The neighborhood is an older area of the village, with smaller houses and lots than in most areas.

"We have tarp city on Green Bay Road," Klaman said. "The roofs are caving in (on two houses under the tarps.) There is one house with toilets in the back yard."

Tolsky, whose house has been for sale for about two months, said a property abutting his looks abandoned. He asked if the village has anything in the code about maintenance.

"We shouldn't have homes that look reminiscent of (Hurricane) Katrina," he said. "I own a business in West Allis and they have strict rules, and they do enforce them."

Trustee Wendy Walcott said the village has ordinances that address property maintenance but depends on residents to notify staff when they see a problem.

Klaman said the drainage system in the area needs fixing.

"Water came across from Glendale through the Masonic Lodge property into our garage and basement," she said, describing the July 22 rains that flooded areas of the North Shore. "We were a complete island. There was no Green Bay Road."

Klaman said overgrown vegetation and failing culverts along the road are to blame.

"There are bricks, wood - stuff - in the culverts," she said.

Klaman said there are dead trees on some of the lots and a large overgrown tree 10 feet from her house that she fears will crash on her roof. She has talked to that neighbor and offered to help pay some of the cost of its removal but without success.

She hastened to add that there are many well maintained properties in the triangle but the flooding, condition of the culverts and property maintenance are dragging down the value of property in the area.

Village President Robert Brunner said the concerns would be placed on the Village Board agenda in September. In the meantime, Village Manager Tom Tollaksen said the building inspector would be involved with getting some answers to the questions the trio of residents raised.

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