Wednesday, August 27, 2014

County Board is considering the sale of O’Donnell Park


Imagine the public outcry if Milwaukee County were to consider selling Lake Park, Washington Park, Whitnall Park, or any other park in its award-winning park system. There ought to be an outcry. Our parks should not be for sale.

And yet, the County Board is in fact considering the sale of one of its parks. As a board member of Preserve Our Parks I am forwarding the following appeal. I hope you will join me in opposing this effort. If you can’t attend the public hearing (details below) please contact your county supervisor. (If you need help scroll down for contact info and talking points.) And please forward this message to your friends!

View from O'Donnell Park
Dear friend of the parks,

Our parks are at a crossroads, and we are asking for your help. Milwaukee County is proposing to sell O’Donnell Park to the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. NML is undergoing an expansion that will add some 1600 new workers to its staff, and it needs more staff parking. O’Donnell Park is located one block from NML, on the lakefront. This unusual park’s street-level plaza and pavilion sit on top of a 1300-car parking garage. This roomy garage could help alleviate NML’s parking problems.

The trouble is, NML does not want to simply rent garage space in O’Donnell Park. It wants to buy the park in its entirety—the plaza and pavilion and the garage underneath.

Please come to a county hearing on September 10 to learn more about the proposed sale and help express to Milwaukee County that our parks are not for sale. O’Donnell serves as a superb conduit between downtown and the lakefront. Its garage earns the County $2 million a year in parking revenues. Its preservation is essential—if O’Donnell can be sold, any park can be sold. And the fact is, NML has other options for providing employee parking.

We applaud NML for its commitment to downtown and for the vibrancy it brings to our city, but our parks are not for sale. Please attend the hearing to give the County this message: Keep O’Donnell under public ownership and control. Do not turn it over to private, commercial ownership. Please ask your friends and neighbors to join you at the meeting.


Wednesday, September 10, 6:30 p.m.


Free parking next door in O’Donnell Park garage.
Enter garage from Michigan St. or Lincoln Memorial Drive.


A simple email or phone call will suffice. If you don’t know your supervisor’s name follow the county board link. If you email please click ‘bcc’ and enter It is important for us to know how many supervisors are being contacted.

Tell them loud and clear: “Our parks are not for Sale.” Let’s keep O’Donnell a public park, for our use now and for handing on to future generations.

Talking Points

• O’Donnell Park has our city’s best, most inspiring, location. Let’s keep it in public hands, for our use now and as a heritage we can pass on to future generations.

• Private ownership of parks means loss of protection, not preservation.

• If O’Donnell is sold, any park can be sold.

• O’Donnell Park is an “earner.” It produces over $2,000,000 per year in net operating revenues from parking alone, which helps support all our parks.

• O’Donnell Park is built on land that has been a park since 1868. It has weathered previous fiscal crises, and will weather this one.

• Park deeds require that parks be used only for park purposes and prohibit transferring the land to private entities. The public has the right to have these deeds honored.

Gateway to museum and lakefront
To find your supervisor go to: and click on “Find Your District or Supervisor.”

Then click on the photo of the supervisor to get to contact information.

To contact Preserve Our Parks:

1 comment:

  1. Your beautiful photo of the tall ship framed by the Calatrava "sails" effectively brings home the importance of maintaining this vantage point as a park space, Eddee. The thought that it might be converted someday in a possible NML expansion is a sad one.