War Memorial Land Grab

Whose Lakefront Is It? It Belongs to All of Us!

County Board tells War Memorial Corporation: Follow Rules on Parking Expansion Request lakefront_teaser.jpgAn attempt by the War Memorial Corp. to end run the Lakeshore Development Advisory Committee (LDAC) and the County Board’s Parks Committee collapsed late in May when the County Board voted 10-9 NOT to suspend its rules to take up a request for more parking space on the Downtown Lakefront. The War Memorial folks earlier had presented a plan to LDAC for extending parking northward toward the Vietnam Memorial by leasing 2.55 additional acres of parkland. The committee had asked for more details, which were not forthcoming, and no approach was made to the County’s Parks, Energy and Environment Committee. Instead, the War Memorial folks enlisted five County Supervisors to sponsor a resolution asking the Board to suspend its rules and take up the expansion request directly.

Preserve Our Parks and The Park People got wind of the move and in a press release, a press conference and emails to parks supporters and County Supervisors urged the County Board to vote down the resolution. The two parks groups also filed a legal document with the county contending that the expansion would be illegal for two reasons: The parking lot is used as a money maker for the War Memorial Corp., a use prohibited under the State’s Public Trust Doctrine, which bans commercial use of filled lakebed land, and Commercial use is prohibited under terms of a City/County agreement signed when the City deeded a number of parks, including this parkland to the County in the late 1930s. The document asks that the request for more parkland for parking be denied and that the existing parking area be returned to the County for park purposes.Further legal action will be taken if these requests are not fulfilled.

Voting against suspension of the rules (and FOR following established procedure) were Supervisors Broderick, Coggs, De Bruin, Demitrijevic, Harris, Jursik, Larson, Lipscomb, Thomas and West. Voting for suspension were the resolution sponsors Borkowski, Mayo, Rice, Sanfelippo and Weishan, plus Supervisors Cesarz, Holloway, Johnson and Schmitt.