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!

Its our turn. Let's save our parks. It will take a strong grassroots effort!

Preserve Our Parks is very concerned about the financial future of our treasured Milwaukee County Parks.  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 due to funding that has stagnated for the last thiry-five years.  Through our taxes we have assured the financial future of privately owned athletic franchises but not our own emerald necklace!  To that end, we are collecting names on a petition that will be presented to County elected officials in late September and State elected representatives in January.

The petition drive demands that our elected representatives, at both local and state levels, determine and enact legislation that will allow for a secure, stable and sustainable funding source(s) to protect our storied Park System for future generations. We are also hoping to build a strong base of advocates to assist in securing names on the petitions.   Scroll to the bottom of this page to see and download the petition.  Please consider helping out!  All petitions, once completed should be sent to:

Preserve Our Parks
1845 N. Farwell
Suite 100
Milwaukee, WI  53202
If you are not inclined to assist in the circulation of the petition and collection of names, then please sign the online petition and pass the word on to friends, family and acquaintences.  Click here to sign.

Here are eight reasons why one should sign the petition:

1. The parks department budget was $42 million in 1983; today it is under $35 million.  If the Parks budget had kept pace with inflation it would be over $102 million.

2. Full-time park workers now number about 200, down from 765 in 1983.

3. Estimated costs for deferred park maintenance are $200 million to $300 million.

4. State shared income—income returned to Milwaukee County after tax payment—shrinks every year. In addition, services mandated by the State are grossly underfunded leaving Milwaukee County tax payers to pick up the difference.

5. Our parks are supported by a) property taxes and b) revenue generated within the parks through fees and charges. The parks received $31 million in property tax support in 1986. Today it receives $12 million.

6. In 1986, the property tax levy for parks was nearly 29% of the total county budget. Today it is 4.7%.

7. In 1986, internally earned revenue was 16% of the total parks budget. Today it is nearly 64%.

8. While the parks budget has shrunk since the mid-1980s the county budget as a whole nearly doubled from $575 million to $1.15 billion

What does this all mean?

It means that property tax support for our parks is expected to continue it's severe downward trend in the coming years.

In essence, it means that our parks are at critical point; one that threatens the core concept that urban parks be supported by local taxes, that the "common good" and health of our community be reflected in a well cared for and valued park system.  In coming years we will see more direct advertising in our parks, naming rights will be sold for major park facilities, more leasing of parkland to private entities, and the sale of parkland that is not locally zoned "park".

We need to do better. 

Preserve Our Parks is working for a better future for our Parks.  Stay tuned...

Park Funding


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. 

Follow this link to the story.