KRM commuter rail was the lead topic Tuesday during Mayor John Dickert's first meeting with the Young Professionals of Racine.
Dickert met with 25 YPR members at the Radisson hotel. Here's some notes on the forum:
* No surprise, Dickert came out strong in support of commuter rail and regional bus transit. He said he had no problem with government supporting trains and buses because it's government that pays for roads. The state is spending $1 billion adding another lane to I-94, and Racine won't get much benefit from it. Buses and KRM will cost less than that, and benefit Racine more.
* But YPR member Chris Terry said he didn't believe transit alone would solve Racine's problems. The city needs to become more aggressive in attracting businesses with tax benefits and other incentives, he said.
* One YPR member said Racine needed KRM to connect to its neighbors. "We're getting cut off from the rest of the world," she said. "We're going to be a ghost town."
* Talk about KRM, high-speed rail and buses took up easily more than half of the forum.
* Dickert said he's working to create a 10-year parks plan for the city. Park land along the Root River, which Dickert called on the "longest continuous parks" in the country, will be a focus of the plan.
* The city is re-writing its housing ordinances to discourage bad landlords and bad tenants tenants, Dickert said. He also wants the city involved in remodeling more homes. Right now, Dickert said, the city spends $1 million remodeling 3-4 homes a year. He wants to renovate 30-40 homes a year, without spending much more money.
* Dickert said his No. 1 priority is creating jobs. He pointed out there's about 10,000 adults out of work in the city right now.
* The city is vetting every developer interested in Racine, Dickert said. Over the last five year, he said, the city took in any developer and wound up with too much low-income housing. He's trying to even out types of developments that are coming into Racine.
* Dickert said he doesn't hold grudges. He shared a story about a disagreement with an alderman over how City Administrator Tom Friedel was hired. The alderman, who opposed aspects of Friedel's hiring, assumed he was on Dickert's bad side. Dickert said he assured the alderman he wasn't. "I'm OK with disagreement," Dickert said.
* Speaking cryptically, Dickert told the YPR members there's a lot going on. "More than you know," he said.