parks

Greenfield Little League

UPDATE:

The Milwaukee County Board Thursday voted to permit the City of Greenfield to run Kulwicki Park for one year.  This is a dramatic shift from the original proposal that would have created up to a 30-year lease agreement, advocated by Supervisor Tony Staskunas, who represents Greenfield. 

Staskunas called the compromised approach a tryout. "(We'll be) watching how the City of Greenfield takes care of the park.  Supervisor (John) Weishan and I talked about it, if things go well over this year, we can revisit the main proposal later."

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Milwaukee County’s green space - some 15,000 acres of parks – is in varied states of decay. A 2009 audit found Milwaukee County Parks facing $200 million in deferred maintenance and the backlog of capital and maintenance needs now total $246 million.

Virginia Small and Tom Tolan teamed up to write about what might be done to bring the luster back to the park system in this month's issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

UPDATE: 2:30 pm  - The resolution passed,  13 to 4.

Original post: Last summer people flocked to the lush green space above Lake Michigan like never before. The crowds were pursuing small, virtual monsters. The creatures "appeared” in the space, on smartphone screens of people who have the Pokémon Go app.

County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman represents the Lake Park neighborhood. And at a recent county parks committee meeting, Wasserman showed videos and photos taken last summer by neighbors, during what they considered a Pokémon Go invasion.

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

Special projects leader Tommy Richardson led WUWM's Susan Bence on a tour of Stockton Island. The experience proved to be as much an exploration of a major boardwalk project as it was demonstration of Richardson’s love for his job.

Richardson says he never dreamed he’d be working here. We’re on a Park Service boat, heading from a dock outside Bayfield to Stockton Island.

He grew up “near” but a world away from the Apostle Islands. Richardson's grandfather farmed outside Ashland; his dad worked at the local paper mill for 30 years.

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.

Rinka Chung Architecture Inc.

Milwaukee County leaders are eager to sell the Downtown Transit Center site to the developer of The Couture high-rise project. A parks advocacy group continues to argue that the land must be maintained for public use.

S Bence

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

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