With Marquette being a large part of the Avenues West Association, Executive Director Keith Stanley hopes to get students involved with revitalizing the area he said in a speech to Marquette Student Government on Monday night.
Stanley said his goal as the director is to bring more economic development to the neighborhood.
“The goal is not just to bring business and safety to the community, it is to make this community a better place.”
Stanley spoke about the importance of the diversity in the neighborhood including populations from Marquette, the rescue mission and Milwaukee residents. He continued to explain how diversity can bring both opportunities as well as challenges.
Stanley asked Marquette students to “roll their sleeves up” and help change the way this neighborhood is viewed and operates. Stanley said Marquette has helped improve the image of the area in the past.
“After Jeffrey Dahmer and other incidents, this neighborhood was branded, and that affected the Avenues West area as a whole,” Stanley said. “Marquette stepped up to the plate, bought properties and made a difference.”
MUSG President Kyle Whelton advocated the importance of this relationship, stating that it would provide a venue for change.
“We talk about breaking the ‘Marquette bubble,’ but we have not busted that bubble in the network of advocacy on our campus,” Whelton said. “We will not reap the benefits of what we sow for this, but that gives us the opportunity to bring in a serious conversation, a real venue for change and opportunity on this campus and in this community.”
Stanley hopes to mimic the atmosphere of Brady Street and Water Street by instituting a “thriving economy” to the Avenues West area. He said that the first step is to improve home ownership rates in order to bring in disposable income.
Public art and grocery stores, Stanley said, will play a large role in advancing the economic development of the community.
Whelton asked about possibilities to bring a grocery store in order to advance the area. Stanley mentioned that his board has been working on that for the past 20 years.
“One problem is we do not have the disposable income to support a grocery store,” he said. “We need to form a partnership with a grocery store who is willing to take a chance and try something different for this community.”
“We have a lot of vacant buildings and vacant lots; we would love to see art as a tool to improve the neighborhood,” Stanley said. “But that is where we need students, whether they work with the artists or do it themselves.”
The Avenues West neighborhood, Stanley explained, is bounded by West Highland Boulevard. on the north side, North 28th Street on the west, Interstate 94 on the south and Interstate 43 North on the east.