Milwaukee County Parks

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Leaders in Milwaukee County's parks department are asking residents to weigh in on the system via an online survey. That input will be used to help craft a master plan.

Why the planning?

Although Milwaukee County is rich with green space - 15,000 acres of parks, the century-old system comes with a price.

According to a 2009 audit, the parks face $200 million in deferred maintenance and addressing it will require the county to make some tough decisions.

Susan Bence

This month, Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee’s Whitnall Park has taken on an exotic look. The visiting display called China Lights covers eight acres of the gardens. At night the display lights up.

The welcome gate pulls you through a world lined with peach trees. Just ahead flowers sparkle in a sunken garden. Turn your head to discover colorful lotus fairies, turn another direction and pandas at play appear.

And you’ve barely seen anything – including the 22-foot tall dragon.
 

Artist Ziming Luo created the show.

Michelle Maternowski

The Milwaukee County Parks, Energy and Environment Committee meeting Tuesday was the latest scene of public debate over Pokémon's popularity in Lake Park.

Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman says he’s hearing from his constituents loud and clear. The smartphone game Pokémon Go has turned life as usual in the Lake Park neighborhood upside down.

Wasserman blames Niantic, the company that created the virtual reality game for the crowds of people congregating in and around the park.

Michelle Maternowski

Milwaukee’s Lake Park is one of the most popular local Pokémon Go play areas. Crowds of people are lured to the handful of PokéStops, hoping to catch a rare pocket monster. The phenomenon intrigues some, and annoys others.

UPDATE - After a long discussion Tuesday evening, the task force did not come to a concensus on whether to rehab or replace the footbridge.  Several groups are keenly interested in the bridge's future,  including the North Point Lighthouse Friends and Lake Park Friends.  The groups plan to review the proposed alternatives with their members.  The task force will consider those perspectives as the final selection is made.

Susan Bence

The Milwaukee County Parks system seems to swing between two extremes. On one hand, its green space creates a ring,  some compare to an exquisite emerald necklace. On the other, parks are crippled by deferred maintenance.

One example is Lake Park, where officials closed a 110-year-old footbridge because it is crumbling.

The fate of the bridge that spans a ravine, and a winding roadway below, will be the topic of a public information meeting this evening at Lake Park.

Our weather is too warm for Milwaukee County to open the outdoor ice rink at Red Arrow Park downtown, yet the county is keeping open four golf courses this weekend- Currie, Grant, Lincoln and Whitnall.

Temperatures have been unseasonably mild this fall, and the trend is forecast to continue, at least into next week.

Aedo Pultrone / Flickr

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14.

Shockingly, 61 percent of children cannot perform basic swim safety skills according to a recent Red Cross survey. For adults who often supervise these children, eighteen percent of them fail to be competent swimmers themselves.

S Bence

A few years ago, The Park People spearheaded a “passport” to entice people to explore the Oak Leaf Trail. It covers more than 100 miles of diverse terrain. At first, the passport highlighted 14 park stops. This year, it includes 26 and a full-size map.

Cheri Briscoe is a hardcore volunteer. She’s advocated for the Oak Leaf Trail even before it acquired the name.

"I love biking and so I decided that’s what I want to focus on in my later life," she says.

S Bence

Wednesday, the former head of Milwaukee County’s park system starts a new job as executive director of Arizona State Parks.

S Bence

People packed the Nicolet High School cafeteria Wednesday evening to consider three Estabrook Dam alternative plans - repair, remove or a hybrid.

S Bence

MillerCoors presented Milwaukee County with $500,000 to help revitalize Bay View's South Shore Beach on Wednesday.

Scott Wise

While the world’s top golfers compete this weekend in the British Open, Milwaukee's Lincoln Park will host a FootGolf tournament.

Susan Bence

Johnsons Park holds the distinction of being one of the most neglected green spaces in the Milwaukee County system.

S Bence

Sheridan Park in Cudahy is about to celebrate its 100th birthday. We meet two people – one dedicated to the park’s future; the other has written book she hopes lures more people into all of Milwaukee’s green spaces.

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