Core priorities articulated by City Council are fiscal stability, public safety, infrastructure, and community vibrancy.  I believe important issues to address relate to these priorities. 

  1. Fiscal Stability/tax issues include: uncertainty from Federal/State governments; unfunded mandates; trend to greater local support; pressure for government consolidation to reduce taxes; pension costs; and empty storefronts.
  2. Public safety issues include:  new fire station needed in Ravinia to replace 87-year old station that no longer serves the needs of the community; traffic (particularly around schools); and drug/alcohol abuse.
  3. Infrastructure issues include:  transportation; maintaining landscape, equipment, facilities, water, and streets/sidewalks; increasing walking/cycling options; greater sustainability efforts; not enough convenient parking in business districts; and inconsistent cell service.
  4. Community vibrancy issues include: preserving community character and history; need for greater transparency and diverse community involvement; campaign costs discouraging potential candidates; planning for changing demographics; aging population creating demand for more housing, transportation, and services; accessibility, housing, jobs, and services for people with mental illness, physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities; need for additional affordable housing; and immigrant and language issues including sign language to increase accessibility to city events and services.


We need to set both short-term and long-term priorities.  There are things we MUST do as a municipality (such as paying our pensions and fixing our potholes) and things that would be nice to do (such as more bike trails).  We need to actively seek grants to supplement tax income.  We also need to examine how consolidation of local governments might save tax dollars without reducing services.  The city has been hiring more part-time employees and reducing the number of full-time employees.  While this is a business strategy used to reduce costs, we need to ask ourselves if this is the direction we want to go as a city.

The solution to empty storefronts needs to focus on creating a favorable business climate, attracting jobs, and increasing customers.  Internet shopping has continued to grow since 2000 and will continue to do so in the future, so we need to determine what types of retail are better suited to storefronts and encourage growth in those type of businesses.  The emphasis needs to be on non-service businesses, since service businesses (e.g., nail salons and dry cleaners) do NOT generate sales tax revenue. I would suggest that we have focus groups of Highland Park residents “brainstorm” the types of businesses that might be successful and then reach out to those businesses. 

We need to examine each of the business districts to ensure that the local needs are met.  For example, Ravinia residents have been clamoring for a small grocery store since the grocery store closed approximately 19 years ago.  Perhaps Sunset could have a satellite store in Ravinia in which there could be a small eating area as well as the sale of pre-made items.  The outlet stores along Skokie Highway in Northbrook always seem busy.  We should consider recruiting outlets to rent the space formerly used by Saks.  Indoor playgrounds are also popular and a definite draw for families.  Converting Saks into an indoor playground that charges a user fee might also be a good use of that space.  Restaurants are always a draw, and we could create an area with picnic tables, maybe in Port Clinton Square or Renaissance, so that diners could carry out food from local restaurants and eat outside.  In the summer, we could have entertainment as a draw. We could encourage local businesses to work together to provide prizes for people who spend a certain amount in a business district.  I also see people walking their dogs through town, yet they can’t bring their pets into restaurants or coffee shops.  Walk-up windows at some establishments that serve drinks and snack food would be welcome.  Cyclists along Green Bay often stop at coffee shops to refresh themselves.  We should recruit other businesses that serve the needs of cyclists.

HP commercial properties are owned and managed by very few people.  The lack of competition keeps rents high in the business districts.  We need to develop incentives for owners to keep their stores occupied.  One idea would be to provide tax relief for owners who keep their retail stores occupied and generating sales tax revenue.

We should consider moving more HP city offices to the downtown area.  While conducting business with the city, people will also shop.  We also need to better educate people about parking options in the city and allow three-hour parking on streets so that diners also have time to shop.  Some business owners have suggested the possibility of valet parking and might be willing to pay for it.

HP has a duty to protect its residents, and much of this duty is accomplished by first responders such as police, fire and ambulance. We need to continue to ensure that our first responders are well-equipped with smart technology and trained to locate, mitigate, and prevent safety issues. We must continue to support our public safety staff and continue to look for and expand ways to do so in a cost-effective way by partnering with sister governmental bodies and other nearby municipalities.

Traffic is an issue in certain parts of HP.  Prior to any school closings and moving children to other schools, we need to study the impact of traffic and how best to mitigate the problems created.          

Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant in our country, and we are not immune in HP. We have a federally-licensed and regulated opioid treatment program located in HP to help fight opioid and prescription medication dependence as well as addiction to other drugs and alcohol.  Additional resources may become necessary as we, like other communities, continue to deal with this problem.

Cell service problems occur throughout the city.  There are too many “dead” zones, posing a public safety and community concern. We need to work with the cellphone providers to improve the networks throughout the city.

As of 2014, there were approximately 30 city-owned properties.  More recently the city has purchased properties for future use.  The City needs to examine its property portfolio on a regular basis to determine whether it makes sense for the community to continue to own and maintain the properties.

HP residents greatly value their history, and historic preservation has become a “hot” topic.   We need to study how other communities deal with historic structures and artifacts for possible ways to maintain our history without overly burdening our residents.  We should convene a citizens task force to identify the issues and recommend win-win solutions.  New construction, particularly in the downtown area, has created some consternation among residents.  For example, many people I have spoken to during this campaign have complained about the new building on Central west of Green Bay.  The city and plan commission need to do a better job working with developers so that new buildings better “fit in” with the current character of HP.

Our community like many others is “graying,” and residents want to age in place.  We need greater accessibility, housing, jobs, and services for people with mental illness, physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities.  I would suggest that we look at more public-private partnerships and work with local not-for-profits to explore possible solutions to provide more to meet the needs of all residents.


We need greater diversity and community involvement on our commissions and local boards to reflect the diverse backgrounds and talents of our residents.  

Please email me at

FriendsOfLauraSaret@gmail.com 

to comment on these issues or any other issues you are concerned about.

Also see my response to Karen Berkowitz questions on fiscal stability. 

YOUR VOICE

on the City Council

Core priorities articulated by City Council are fiscal stability, public safety, infrastructure, and community vibrancy.  I believe important issues to address relate to these priorities. 


Fiscal Stability/tax issues include: uncertainty from Federal/State governments; unfunded mandates; trend to greater local support; pressure for government consolidation to reduce taxes; increase in part-time employees; pension costs; and empty storefronts.
Public safety issues include:  new fire station needed in Ravinia to replace 87-year old station that no longer serves the needs of the community; traffic (particularly around schools); and drug/alcohol abuse.
Infrastructure issues include:  transportation; maintaining landscape, equipment, facilities, water, and streets/sidewalks; increasing walking/cycling options; greater sustainability efforts; not enough convenient parking in business districts; and inconsistent cell service.
Community vibrancy issues include: preserving community character and history; need for greater transparency and diverse community involvement; campaign costs discouraging potential candidates; planning for changing demographics; aging population creating demand for more housing, transportation, and services; accessibility, housing, jobs, and services for people with mental illness, physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities; need for additional affordable housing; and immigrant and language issues including sign language to increase accessibility to city events and services.


We need to set both short-term and long-term priorities.  There are things we MUST do as a municipality (such as paying our pensions and fixing our potholes) and things that would be nice to do (such as more bike trails).  We need to actively seek grants to supplement tax income.  We also need to examine how consolidation of local governments might save tax dollars without reducing services.  The city has been hiring more part-time employees and reducing the number of full-time employees.  While this is a business strategy used to reduce costs, we need to ask ourselves if this is the direction we want to go as a city.

The solution to empty storefronts needs to focus on creating a favorable business climate, attracting jobs, and increasing customers.  Internet shopping has continued to grow since 2000 and will continue to do so in the future, so we need to determine what types of retail are better suited to storefronts and encourage growth in those type of businesses.  The emphasis needs to be on non-service businesses, since service businesses (e.g., nail salons and dry cleaners) do NOT generate sales tax revenue. I would suggest that we have focus groups of Highland Park residents “brainstorm” the types of businesses that might be successful and then reach out to those businesses. 

We need to examine each of the business districts to ensure that the local needs are met.  For example, Ravinia residents have been clamoring for a small grocery store since the grocery store closed approximately 19 years ago.  Perhaps Sunset could have a satellite store in Ravinia in which there could be a small eating area as well as the sale of pre-made items.  The outlet stores along Skokie Highway in Northbrook always seem busy.  We should consider recruiting outlets to rent the space formerly used by Saks.  Indoor playgrounds are also popular and a definite draw for families.  Converting Saks into an indoor playground that charges a user fee might also be a good use of that space.  Restaurants are always a draw, and we could create an area with picnic tables, maybe in Port Clinton Square or Renaissance, so that diners could carry out food from local restaurants and eat outside.  In the summer, we could have entertainment as a draw. We could encourage local businesses to work together to provide prizes for people who spend a certain amount in a business district.  I also see people walking their dogs through town, yet they can’t bring their pets into restaurants or coffee shops.  Walk-up windows at some establishments that serve drinks and snack food would be welcome.  Cyclists along Green Bay often stop at coffee shops to refresh themselves.  We should recruit other businesses that serve the needs of cyclists.

HP commercial properties are owned and managed by very few people.  The lack of competition keeps rents high in the business districts.  We need to develop incentives for owners to keep their stores occupied.  One idea would be to provide tax relief for owners who keep their retail stores occupied and generating sales tax revenue.

We should consider moving more HP city offices to the downtown area.  While conducting business with the city, people will also shop.  We also need to better educate people about parking options in the city and allow three-hour parking on streets so that diners also have time to shop.  Some business owners have suggested the possibility of valet parking and might be willing to pay for it.

HP has a duty to protect its residents, and much of this duty is accomplished by first responders such as police, fire and ambulance. We need to continue to ensure that our first responders are well-equipped with smart technology and trained to locate, mitigate, and prevent safety issues. We must continue to support our public safety staff and continue to look for and expand ways to do so in a cost-effective way by partnering with sister governmental bodies and other nearby municipalities.

Traffic is an issue in certain parts of HP.  Prior to any school closings and moving children to other schools, we need to study the impact of traffic and how best to mitigate the problems created.          

Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant in our country, and we are not immune in HP. We have a federally-licensed and regulated opioid treatment program located in HP to help fight opioid and prescription medication dependence as well as addiction to other drugs and alcohol.  Additional resources may become necessary as we, like other communities, continue to deal with this problem.

Cell service problems occur throughout the city.  There are too many “dead” zones, posing a public safety and community concern. We need to work with the cellphone providers to improve the networks throughout the city.

As of 2014, there were approximately 30 city-owned properties.  More recently the city has purchased properties for future use.  The City needs to examine its property portfolio on a regular basis to determine whether it makes sense for the community to continue to own and maintain the properties.

HP residents greatly value their history, and historic preservation has become a “hot” topic.   We need to study how other communities deal with historic structures and artifacts for possible ways to maintain our history without overly burdening our residents.  We should convene a citizens task force to identify the issues and recommend win-win solutions.  New construction, particularly in the downtown area, has created some consternation among residents.  For example, many people I have spoken to during this campaign have complained about the new building on Central west of Green Bay.  The city and plan commission need to do a better job working with developers so that new buildings better “fit in” with the current character of HP.

Our community like many others is “graying,” and residents want to age in place.  We need greater accessibility, housing, jobs, and services for people with mental illness, physical, developmental, and intellectual disabilities.  I would suggest that we look at more public-private partnerships and work with local not-for-profits to explore possible solutions to provide more to meet the needs of all residents.Type your paragraph here.