A resolution to put O’Donnell Park up for bid to private developers was introduced Jan. 27 at a meeting of the Parks, Energy & Environment Committee of Milwaukee County’s Board of Supervisors. (It was a substitute for a resolution requesting bids to repair a small area of O’Donnell’s roof and to explore increased programming and income options for O’Donnell Park.)
It will be presented to the full board Thursday, February 5 at a 9:30 a.m. meeting.
A pending resolution solicits bids for redevelopment of “Entire O’Donnell Park Parcel” and immediately stops O’Donnell revenue from going into County Parks budget. The resolution to offer this 147-year-old public park to for-profit bidders was sponsored by Anthony Staskunas, Deanna Alexander, and Steve Taylor, who voted for it in committee.
Approving the resolution will mean O’Donnell Park is “declared surplus,” a term applied to property no longer of any use to the County, such as outdated vehicles or vacant buildings.
An RFP would cover “the entire O’Donnell Park Parcel” with “full redevelopment of the southern half of the parcel” and redevelopment on the northern half “consistent with the parks-only provision of the existing deed restriction.”
Until O’Donnell Park is sold, “any revenue generated by the Parking operations shall be used to first pay off debt related to O’Donnell Park, then towards cash financing of any needed repairs, and then any excess shall be added to the Parks Department’s budget…” That’s an immediate $1.3 million slashing of the parks’ maintenance budget.
Please help stop an unprecedented—and completely unnecessary--sale of O’Donnell Park. The seven-acre complex serves as Milwaukee’s cultural gateway and town plaza linking Downtown and the Lakefront. Facilities include a three-story pavilion (home to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Coast restaurant, and meeting/banquet rooms), two garden plazas and a 1,332-space parking facility. There are 900 monthly parkers at O’Donnell and 200 on a waiting list. The parking structure received a $5 million thorough restoration in 2011, fully reimbursed by a former contractor.
Please contact your supervisor and those who have not yet declared a position on this park sale (and to support O’Donnell’s maintenance and best use), especially Mark Borkowski, Marina Dimitrijevic, Theo Lipscomb, Khalif Rainey, Peggy Romo West, James ‘Luigi” Schmitt, and Martin Weddle.
We averted a sale in December by making our views known to supervisors and we can do so again. Keep fighting for parks as “democracy’s common ground.”
Before contacting supervisors please check the article by The City Parks Alliance on Why Urban Parks Matter! It may help you formulate an argument.