10 Not So Great Things About Living In Kenosha

Areas Of Need

The Rest of Downtown:  It was mentioned in the 10 Great Things article that the downtown area is crawling back to relevance, and that is a true statement.  For about a 4 block area, that downtown scene is jumping on a weekend night.  But the entire downtown area is huge, and the vast majority of it looks like it just fell out of a postcard from 1978.  It is almost impossible to believe there weren’t some reasonable options in the past 40 years.
K-12:  The public school system is OK at best.  The numbers certainly are not great…they actually aren’t really even good.  To their defense, KUSD was at one time so top heavy that nothing much happened any lower down the food chain than the 4th VP of Administration in Charge of Absolutely Nothing.  Some of that foam has been cleared from the top and some of the “doers” are getting a better opportunity to make a difference.  Still far too many functional illiterates and far too low of a graduation rate and college prep and readiness.
The AMC Site:  Stop me if you have heard this one before, “we are going to pay XYZ Corporation a 6 digit number to give us some options of what to do with that big empty square in the middle of town”.  How many options can there possibly be?  Haven’t we heard that statement 3 or 4 times now?  Obviously the shape of the ground is what it is, having housed a major industrial complex from days gone by.  It can’t be great.  But it must have some upside.  Get to it.  What is the best that can be done with that land?  Find it, market it, sell it and get on with it!

Playing Politics:  Politics in Kenosha comes with drama and it sure seems to be a self-inflicted wound.  An Alderman recently referenced a “sense of entitlement” in explaining his actions. For being an Alderman??  You win an election that 43 people vote in, you get 6K and benefits to decide who cuts the grass at Petzke Park and somehow that allows you some form of entitlement?  Serious times need serious people.  Far too many self serving interests.

The Kenosha News:  Predictable, generic and never as good as the city it covers.  The are so many interesting things and interesting people to profile in this city and that surface remains barely scratched.  The prep-work for this article consisted of the opinions of 5 life-long Kenoshans and there was only one unanimous suggestion to this list.
Zero When It’s Zero:  Kenosha is a cold weather city.  We wear jackets on the 4th of July and football is the trade off for the pending cold of September.  There is very little to do in Kenosha in the winter.  Folks in this city do not need a huge reason to party but the Winter Winner has yet to be found.  Sure, Kenoshans pack 12 months of fun in to about 11 weeks of warmth but we sure could use a real big-time winter bash to break up the monotony of the cold seasons.
The Course Has Been Officially Stayed:  Nothing happens fast in Kenosha.  Nothing happens even moderately swiftly in Kenosha.  The political hierarchy is people working jobs.  Their jobs happen to be governing.  The status quo remains in high regard.  The mayor is on his second trip around the block and will essentially retire at some point.  That landscape doesn’t exactly lend itself hunger and passion and many thoughts from outside the box.
Culture and Entertainment:  There are a smattering of culture and entertainment opportunities in Kenosha but you need to be prepared to hunt them down.  The resurgence of part of downtown centers around bars and restaurants.  Take any one of those 40 abandoned buildings downtown and create something similar to the Genesee Theater in Waukegan or the Riverside in Milwaukee.  We have theater groups that receive zero support and the art and culture communities have few friends with the current leadership.
Limited State Championship Banners:  For decades Kenosha had two of the three largest schools in the state of Wisconsin.  How did we not manage to win a truckload of state championship titles?  If it was because we don’t have open enrollment, then allow open enrollment.  If I live on the south side and want my son to go to Bradford, I use my mother in law’s address and boom, my son goes to Bradford.  It’s not like that’s news. No one in the Kenosha media ever has a vote in the AP rankings for our high school teams.  The closest vote to us comes from Racine. We have multitudes of players at all levels of college and professional sports as individuals but our team championships are almost non-existent.
The Future:  This portion of the story has truly yet to be written.  Can Kenosha get out of its own way to capitalize on the opportunities that we now have as a city?  No one is asking the city to put us all-in on the Cryptocurrency bet.  No one is calling for a 50,000 seat arena next to the old Leader Store.  Kenosha needs to produce an A-Game over the course of the next couple of years.  Kenosha needs to grow, and Kenosha needs to revisit any and all stated objectives.  The upside must outweigh the pitfalls.  We need advanced leadership and engaged citizenship.  The “old boy” network needs to stop worrying about who does it and just make damn sure someone gets it done right.  We need to seek more headway than headlines and we need to claim our rightful place as a world class city that everyone should want to make home.  Why the hell not!