Welcome to Preserve Our Parks

Preserve Our Parks, a nonprofit watchdog group, battles to keep Milwaukee area parks open and green, resists incursions for non-park uses, and fights for funds to properly maintain one of the County’s greatest treasures, its parks system.

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.

Find out more about Preserve Our Parks!

POP battles to uphold Public Trust Doctrine

Preserve Our Parks not only serves to protect parkland but is the only group in Southeastern Wisconsin that strives to protect the tenets of the Public Trust Doctrine. 

The public trust doctrine holds that certain natural resources belong to all and cannot be privately owned or controlled because of their intrinsic value to each individual and society.  While water resources protected under the doctrine may not be monopolized by private entities, they nevertheless face great strains today from private use and misuse. 

Although we lost our battle regarding Downtown Transit Center, we feel we know we had the factual evidence to prove our arguements and win in a court of law. It was only due to State legislation that inflicted a fictitious former shoreline at the site that forced the defeat.  The State Legislature should be ashamed as it is their responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens in regard to the public trust.


Park Funding

Our Milwaukee County Parks Department has been subjected to a steep erosion in budget dollars for well over 25 years.  For example, the Parks budget in 1988 was $39,041.219.  Moving forward twenty nine years to 2017 the Parks budget is $39,568,0031.  This increase of just over a half million dollars pales in comparison to the cost of living during this time span.  The cost of living has doubled from 1988 to present day.  If the Park budget had grown at the rate of inflation the Parks budget today would be just under $80,000,000.

It is obvious that this situation has to be remedied or our Parks will continue to suffer.  Milwaukee County is undergoing a serious financial situation caused significantly by unsupported State mandates, loss of State shared revenue, pension obligations and other legacy costs.  Furthermore, the State has tied the hands of local governments in addressing their needs by limiting tax increases.  The result of these limitations is that our quality of life in Milwaukee County is at a critical crossroad.

Our Parks deserve a stable, sustainable and dedicated funding source in order to provide the legacy of Parks we have come to know and appreciate. Future generations are counting on us to fix this problem. Preserve Our Parks commissioned a study of how other major urban areas in the United States are funding their parks though innovative ways.  We could learn from their initiatives. 

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