A Word On The Supposed Selling Of Parks

Seven Bridges entrance

Last week, the city received a letter from the county executive’s office asking us to take a look at how we’ve zoned our county parks. It asked us to make any changes necessary to ensure they are zoned appropriately to allow for their preservation as parks.

No problem, I thought. This is an easy one.

Parks should be zoned as parks. And we’ll make sure they are.

Then came the press releases. Like this one from the county board chairman, listing Grant Park and Rawson Park on some sort of “at-risk” list.

That helped drive media coverage like this and this, and then there was a hearing before the county board’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee on Friday.

Our response was the appropriate one. We have put the issue on Tuesday’s council agenda, with a plan to refer to the Plan Commission for recommendations on what, if any, rezoning is necessary. If we need to clean up zoning, we’ll make the changes.

The story should end there.

Of course, it hasn’t, and it won’t, not when politics are at play. And this whole effort stinks of politics.

Local municipalities should be kept out of county political battles. In this case, we’re being put in the middle of them.

To me, this whole exercise is crying wolf about something that is almost assuredly not going to happen. Grant Park is not for sale. I would not support it being for sale. And from what I know of the county executive and his administration, and from what the county executive has told me, he does not want to put it for sale.

But insinuating as much sure makes for a good press release, and scores some political points as the county executive election nears.

Please see through the scare tactics and the headlines.

We will stand up for our parks, minus the politics.


Filed under South Milwaukee

9 responses to “A Word On The Supposed Selling Of Parks

  1. Disco

    This is an extremely complex issue. Some land designated for a county park can revert back to the local city. We have had this happen in South Milwaukee with some bad results. Basically, the County just quits maintaining the park. I also was understanding we had some sales of Grant park parcels back in the early 1950’s. At times ,zoning can be overridden, I would get familiar with the use of eminent domain, it has been effective, it is a crazy law that can prevent bad use of the land. It has can thrown a curve to any unwanted use of land. High rise condo’s could be the result if things go the way Milwaukee North Shore has . Erik, your concern is warranted.

  2. Erik, you may or may not be aware that when Scott Walker was county executive he successfully sold county Parks property on one occasion, and nearly succeeded in doing it a second time. The first incident was the sale of the county parks natural areas greenhouses to Wisconsin Lutheran College for 10 cents on the dollar. That eliminated the county parks being able to replant or repair natural areas that become damaged by erosion, human wear and tear, or natural elements, with locally grown, appropriately hardy plant species. Because the parks watch groups were watching him after that, he was discovered to be trying to trade Bender Park for a nearby brown field. Thankfully, because the parks advocacy groups got involved before that sale was affected, that park was saved. Both of these sales happened pretty much behind closed doors, deliberately concealed from the public. And they both happened because of the situation that is now being highlighted. It is not wise, given these two previous incidents, to assume that “Grant Park is not for sale.” It may not be advertised, but neither was Bender Park.

  3. Steve Hewitt

    First off, I hope it never comes to this and, I’m pretty sure it won’t. However, just in case it does may be its time for the city to think about being the owner of the park. There are many creative things that could be done to make the park a large source of revenue for the city. Further, the creative things that could be done such as: summer concerts, making the beach “thee” alternative to Bradford beach and making hiking trails a must do could make S.M. a destination place. Lastly, let’s hope the political talk is just that, talk, but if it isn’t there are alternatives.

  4. RocketMom

    Thank you for putting this on the agenda and closing this legal loophole.

  5. Rick

    Milwaukee County parks sold the land at 15th & Parkway for the tennis courts, drainage fields and baseball field for $1.00

  6. Thanks, Rick. Good to know. That sounds like a reasonable transaction to me, as it ensures public use of parkland, just with ownership by a different public entity willing to invest in the property for the long term.

  7. Deb

    I’m extremely glad to hear the city of South Milwaukee is behind the park system. It was only a matter of time before this issue came up. We all need to step up and defend our great county park system.

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