parks

Eddee Daniel

The Milwaukee-based advocacy group Preserve Our Parks has rallied for public spaces, noteably Milwaukee County’s beautiful but financially beleaguered parks. In fact, Tuesday evening the group is holding a public meeting to rally support for a sustainable funding source for the system.

Brian Moore / Flickr

On Tuesday, Lake Effect talked to Guy Smith, the man tapped to be the new director of the Milwaukee County Parks Department. Smith talked about his vision for what is often referred to as the region’s “emerald necklace," the green space that benefits the quality of life here. But Smith and his department face challenges linked to the tight budget environment here. 

Susan Bence

Late last week County Executive Chris Abele appointed long-time parks employee Guy Smith to become director. Smith has experience at several levels within the Milwaukee County Parks.

First starting in 2004 as trails coordinator, Smith quickly grew into supervision and management and transitioned to several roles within the department - including deputy regional manager of land resources and chief of operations.

When then director John Dargle resigned late last November, Smith was tapped to fill in as interim director.

Milwaukee Power

Hockey fans in Milwaukee have cheered on the minor league Milwaukee Admirals for several generations.  The franchise plays its home games at the UWM Panther Arena downtown.  But the owners of a new team on the scene believe there’s enough interest in hockey here to draw fans to a venue on the city’s south side.

Susan Bence

If you have plans to visit the giant IKEA store in Oak Creek, be on the lookout for a 3-foot-tall wooden fence. It's not just for show, it is a wall that will help keep nearby salamanders from wandering into the store's parking lot.

The structure is called an amphibian exclusion barrier and divides Falk Park from IKEA.

At the time of the store's construction, Julia Robson was natural areas coordinator with the Milwaukee County Parks. She knows the 222-acre park well.

Audrey Nowakowski

Update 11:50 am:

With the message "You Spoke, I Listened," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced the Pay-to-Park Initiative would be removed from the 2018 budget.  Abele is now suggesting the County's rainy day contingency fund to "fully fund our Parks department for this year."

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Pleasant Valley Park is nestled along the Milwaukee River’s western shore in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood. Long ago, the 23-acre parcel was home to one of Milwaukee’s most popular beer gardens with restaurants, a band shell, steamboat docks and “extravagant” landscaping. Today, Pleasant Valley falls within the Milwaukee River Greenway.

Milwaukee County Parks

Milwaukee County is home to 15,325 acres of parkland. There are 158 unique parks are rooted across the region – from Joseph Lichter Park in the north to Oakwood in the south; from tiny Pompeii Square nestled beneath a tangle of downtown freeway spurs to 626-acre Whitnall Park.

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.

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