MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Speaking up on the proposed downtown streetcar project. On Monday evening, February 2nd, members of the public had the opportunity to tell Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett what they think about the proposed project as a meeting was held on Milwaukee's west side.
The Common Council is set to vote on the issue next Tuesday, February 10th. This, as those opposed to the plan continue to gather signatures in a petition drive to force the issue to a referendum. During Monday night's meeting, Mayor Barrett told supporters and critics a streetcar would directly benefit every corner of Milwaukee.
The group of about 50 people attending Monday evening's meeting were mostly supportive of the proposed streetcar project.
Melanie Majer served as an example of Mayor Barrett's message Monday that a downtown streetcar is the perfect match for a generation of young professionals that wants to live in the heart of their city.
"I patronize local businesses. I go to bars. I go to restaurants. I go to museums. Just having a way to get downtown without having to park my car would be so amazing," Majer said.
Others are far less enthusiastic about a downtown rail line.
"The fact of the matter is this little thing for tourists, this doesn`t benefit the whole city, the whole population," Ross Torsrud said.
Mayor Barrett and Common Council President Michael Murphy disagree, saying that by helping to develop downtown Milwaukee, the streetcar would allow the city to spend more in every district.
"The fact that we have 18% of the tax base coming from downtown allows us to pay for the necessities we all want to have in our neighborhoods," Mayor Barrett said.
Opponents continue to gather signatures in the ongoing petition drive against the streetcar. While the effort is unlikely to affect next week's Common Council vote, those gathering the signatures hope to put a halt to any future expansion of the streetcar. Opponents have also said they're willing to sue the city.
"I`m not worried right now. Again, we`ll cross that bridge when we come to it but I`m not worried about that right now," Mayor Barrett said.
Common Council President Michael Murphy says ultimately, the streetcar is part of a larger puzzle, but he says it's an important part considering Milwaukee is the 14th most densely populated city in the country. The 13 cities ahead of Milwaukee all have some type of fixed rail system.
"It certainly isn`t gonna solve the problems of poverty, crime and other issues. We have to work on all those fronts but this is one opportunity where, perhaps, the city cannot be always trailing the rest of the country," Murphy said.
Another community forum on the streetcar is planned for this Thursday, February 5th on the south side. The location is TBD at this time.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the proposed downtown Milwaukee streetcar.
CLICK HERE for further streetcar coverage via FOX6Now.com.