Alderman Jim Spangenberg is withholding judgment on a proposed development for the corner of Washington Ave. and West Blvd. in his district. But he does want people to know he's worked "tirelessly" for eight years to find the right project for the site.
"I don't toot my own horn," he said, "but I've worked like a dog on this."
Developer Tom Tousis wants to build a combo grocery store, restaurant, car wash and gas station on the corner lot. His plan would also preserve the Farmer's Market that's now there.
But Spangenberg said he has concerns about a gas station in West Racine. Gas stations tend to deteriorate in quality over time and leave an eye sore in the community. He also noted there's a gas station less than a mile away from the proposed site, and that the development is hardly a novel idea.
"We could have had a gas station and convenience store eight years ago," Spangenberg said.
All of this isn't to say Spangenberg is opposed to the project. He's meeting with Tousis on Tuesday to discuss plans and ask questions about how the restaurant will run and whether Tousis's proposed grocery store will really be a large convenience store. In short, Spangenberg is skeptical.
"He's not doing this out of love for the neighborhood," Spangenberg said of Tousis.
What happens at the corner of Washington and West is personal for Spangenberg. His business, Johnson Home Furnishings is just down the street from the site, and his home is just a few blocks away.
"I have a large investment here," Spangenberg said.
For that reason, he's upset to hear anyone suggest he's "doing nothing" to help the area, because he's worked non-stop for eight years to get something going.
"We're trying to do the right thing here," said Spangenberg, who gave an example with the Farmer's Market.
The market needed a sign so he convinced the business improvement district and the West Racine Business Association to buy a sign. But then they needed posts for the sign, so Spangenberg called contractors and begged them to donate the work. The sign is going up within the next week.
"I've worked tirelessly for this area," he said.