A ‘Maptacular’ Idea to Fund Parks
New fund for parks from merchandise sold, including unique maps of parks.
Milwaukee County officially launched an initiative Monday to generate revenue for the parks system through merchandising and a new partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF).
It works like this: the GMF will steward a fund for the county that comes from donations to the parks and proceeds from merchandise the county will sell, including unusual new maps of the parks. The funds generated will be used for parks revenue in the future.
“This is a way that we’re able to leverage and expand and do projects that we wouldn’t able to do under tax levy,” said county parks director Guy Smith.
The online portal for donations, along with merchandise, can be found at parksforgood.com. The merchandise includes posters, stickers, t-shirts and dog outfits.
“The way our state funds local government is sub-optimum, that’s my politically safe way of putting it,” County Executive Chris Abele said. “But until it changes we need to do everything we can.”
The privatization of some parks services has been a sticking point for many county residents passionate about parks. In particular, a proposal last year to institute paid parking at county parks was met with nothing short of an uproar. That, along with the unpopular proposal to increase the wheel tax, are examples of what Abele calls a “least worst idea.”
This one, however, is not that. The fund should provide a future source of revenue, and because it is managed by a private foundation, the money can’t be siphoned off for other projects come budget season.
This new fund and merchandising venture is being launched with “Maptacular” project. Milwaukee County commissioned a number of local artists to create new, creative maps of various parks. These maps will be used throughout the county, and can be purchased as posters.
Each map is by a different artist, and as such has a unique style and aesthetic.
Linda Bleck was commissioned to recreate the map for Whitnall Park. Her map features a number of landmarks and features of the park that were new to her, and will likely be a surprise to other Milwaukee residents. She added, for those that don’t know, that Whitnall Park is just as colorful in person as it appears in her map.
Their prints can be purchased on the “Parks for Good” website alongside the other merchandise.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.