Preserve Our Parks
POP was founded in 1999 by a group of Milwaukeeans concerned about the future of our public parks, green spaces and the lakefront. Over the years, we had seen our parks nibbled by sales, leases and easements. We'd seen public policies on parks grow lenient. We'd seen our parks invaded by non-park, non-public purposes.
Currently POP is working on the following issues:
Mitchell Park Domes: We are working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, and concerned citizens about the threat to these iconic structures. The NTHP commissioned a study by a well respected national company that has restored many historic structures and concluded the three domes could be restored at approximately one-third the cost estimated by the county's go-to consultants.
Ravine Road Bridge in Lake Park: The county's go-to consultants admit the abutments are in decent shape, yet the county first seemed to favor removing the iconic bridge and not replace it at all. This would have bisected the park making north-south transit very cumbersome. Presently we're told a donor will provide one million dollars towrads the replacement of the bridge on the condition the Ravine Road be permanently closed. We object to donors buying control of our parks.
County Grounds: The City of Wauwatosa wants to put another road through the grounds bisecting the prime habitat of the woods and segregating it from the grassland park to the north. Development of the area to the north of the road would follow. Many public hearings were attended by overflow crowds (in excess of 300) and the response was overwhelmingly against the plans. The grounds have already been compromised away to a large extent.
War Memorial Parking: The War Memorial Board occupies offices in the Building co-occupied with the Milwaukee Art Museum. The War Memorial is a NGO and according to their lease with the county their parking lot is restricted to south of a line from Mason Street extended east. Their lot presently encroaches on the parkland to the north. As part of the lakefront redevelopment plan they are trying to extend their parking to include an added lot just south of the MacArthur statue. We oppose any expansion of parking lots on public park land.
Relinquished Control of Public County Parks: We object to turning control of our parks to other entities. In the recent past there was an attempt to turn over a county park to the City of Greenfield. Parks Administration was in favor of doing so, but the county board objected and the deal was dropped. Journey House was given complete control over a football practice field donated by the Green Bay Packers. The county allowed JH to place the field in Mitchell Park. The field is fenced off and gated and the public is only allowed to use it a couple hours on a Sunday morning. JH now wants to take over four baseball diamonds in a small county park, giving JH full scheduling rights and no doubt revenue in return for JH fixing the sadly neglected fields. We find this a sorry solution to a lack of park funding.
Park Funding: All the above issues could be summed up in one major issue: Money. Or, lack thereof. Actually, it's less a lack of money than a lack of will to preserve our heritage of great parks. Our county leaders with few exceptions know the price of our parks but sorely lack the knowledge of the value of our parks. Some years ago we supported the passing of the advisory resolution requesting permission from the state legislature to increase our sales tax specifically for parks, transit, and public safety. The resolution passed, but the state refused to honor the will of the people. Now other groups are talking about a sales tax for 'cultural assets', but they aren't including parks in the mix. Time and again the Trust for Public Lands and others have shown the economic benefit of parks to the community, and our 'leaders' pay lip service to this yet they seem more inclined to shed these assets rather than insisting on approval of adequate funding methods.
We urge everyone to let their elected officials and parks administration know how you feel about your parks! And, please share your concerns with us. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org