Back in February, a controversial plan to install paid parking meters in Milwaukee County parks and along the lakefront was roundly booed, protested, and eventually shot down. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele had floated the plan as a way to plug a $1.6 million hole in the 2018 Milwaukee County budget; after the plan was defeated, Abele asked the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to fill that still-unfilled holed via a one-time withdrawal from a county “rainy day” fund. “This buys us a year,” Abele said at the time. “This is not something we can do every year.”
And hey, whaddya know? That year is almost up, and there doesn’t seem to be a plan to raise more cash to preserve our parks. Enter an online petition from a group called Preserve Our Parks (natch), which demands that someone come up with something, already.
“As a resident of Milwaukee County, I demand that our elected leaders establish stable, secure and sustainable funding dedicated for support of public parks,” begins the petition, which is addressed to the Milwaukee County Board and the Wisconsin State Legislature. “Furthermore, I oppose parking meters in our public parks and any privatization efforts that lead to loss of public access and enjoyment of public parks by all citizens.”
The petition continues:
To date, the State has found a way to build a new Brewers Stadium and a new Arena for the Bucks, but our Parks suffer because their funding has stagnated for the last thirty-five years. Through our taxes we have assured the financial future of privately owned athletic franchises but not our own emerald necklace! Any meaningful solution for properly funding our parks has to be endorsed by the State Legislature.
From there, the petition lists a bunch of alarming statistics (“In 1983 there were 765 full time employees working in the Parks. Today there are about 200,”) and concludes with “We need to do better. Please sign this petition.” As of this writing, 404 people have done just that, for what it’s worth.
Curiously, Chris Abele seems to be a fan of the petition:
Stable, long-term funding to preserve the beauty and recreation offered by our @CountyParks sounds like a great idea to me. I’d encourage you to consider signing this petition.https://t.co/ZduK4JCndo
— Chris Abele (@ChrisAbeleMKE) September 14, 2018
No word yet on whether that (currently mythic) stable, long-term funding could be used to install a totally sweet zipline in the Domes, or if it could have come from somehow monetizing the Pokemon Go craze from a few years back.