Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kenosha Library Board backs streetcar

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The Kenosha Public Library Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2013, endorsed a north-south route expansion of the Wisconsin city's heritage streetcar network, despite some misgivings of its potential impact on library surroundings.

Local critics ridiculed the decision, wondering how a streetcar operation would increase library patronage. Streetcar supporters countered that the building, designed by architect Daniel Burnham, would in fact benefit from students and tourists being able to access the site by public transit.

The board's endorsement also is important in countering arguments that the streetcar's terminal loop, along with overhead wire and related infrastructure, would damage the historic nature of Library Square. Kenosha's City Council earlier this month delayed a decision on expanding the system in part due to that concern, requesting additional review from the city's Historic Preservation Commission.

Kenosha's existing 1.7-mile streetcar east-west route, patrolled by PCC streetcars, links the city's Metra passenger station with the city marina and two parks along Lake Michigan. Besides being touted as a tourist draw, the new north-south route is being advanced (and defended) as an economic development tool and as city transit circulator.