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!

Senate Bill 777 - a stab in the back to local representation

Over three hundred citizens attended the Pay-To-Park public meeting at the Domes Annex on the evening of Feb. 6th. The overriding majority of comments by attendees (with one exception) spoke of the need to bury this proposal. A number of County Board Supervisors present at the meeting privately conferred that the pay-to-park idea is not going to be deployed. We will have to wait until the March Finance Committee Meeting to see if that is the case. The evening was a great example of Democracy at work; citizens letting their elected officials know how they feel about a particular piece of legislation.

Unfortunately our County Executive, Chris Abele, left the meeting just prior to the citizen comments. He smugly headed for the door with the knowledge that his secret (at the time) legislation was heading for committee assignment in the State Senate. That legislation now has a title, Senate Bill 777. It might just as well read 666. SB 777 is a further attempt by Abele to strip Supervisors of even more control of County policy going forward. One of the most egregious aspects of the legislation is that it would give Abele unilateral control to set parking on Milwaukee County property. This would completely negate any move by the Board of Supervisors to outlaw Pay-To-Park in our Parks!

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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. 

Follow this link to the story.