Graham Kilmer
MKE County

South Milwaukee Baseball Diamond Getting Upgrade

South Milwaukee School District maintains baseball diamond owned by the county.

By - Jan 17th, 2023 10:29 am
Baseball diamond aerial map. Image from Milwaukee County.

Baseball diamond aerial map. Image from Milwaukee County.

A baseball diamond in South Milwaukee is getting a significant upgrade this year.

The diamond, in the Oak Creek Parkway and near South Milwaukee High School, is getting new synthetic turf in the infield. The diamond sits on parkland and is owned by Milwaukee County Parks, but it’s also used by the South Milwaukee School District.

Since 2002, the school district has leased the baseball diamond from the parks system, allowing the district to fund upgrades to the park that don’t need to go through the county’s process for capital project financing. It does, however, still have to return to the county board for approval of improvements to the property. The board’s Committee on Parks and Culture quickly approved it.

Along with the new turf, a new drain system and underwater sewer line will be installed.

These park leases are a way for the county to preserve parkland while allowing another party, in this case, a school district, to take over maintenance. Supervisors and their constituents are loathe to see the county relinquish public ownership of county parkland. But the county’s precarious financial situation, with a maintenance backlog in the parks system verging on half a billion dollars worth of projects, makes it tough to get funding for regular maintenance.

In 2019, the City of Greenfield approached Milwaukee County seeking to lease the entirety of Kulwicki Park, allowing the municipality to take over its maintenance and operations. The deal saved the county an estimated $305,000 in maintenance and $60,150 annually in operating costs.

Another major deal for the county was the Urban Ecology Center‘s lease in Washington Park, which was also approved by the board in 2019. The UEC is in the process of planning some of the multi-million improvements to infrastructure there — like the boat house.

These lease deals illustrate the county’s inability to maintain the parks system at current revenue levels. The parks department has, in turn, had to become creative about making money. In recent years, approximately 50% of its annual budget has been generated by the department itself through public golf course fees, event rentals and entertainment offerings like the beer gardens.

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Categories: MKE County, Parks, Politics

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