Board Releases Funds for Park Projects
County board approves $1.3 million in maintenance, repairs and new projects for parks.
Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson authored an amendment to the 2023 county budget that used projected health care savings in 2023 to fund a number of things, including $1.3 million in maintenance projects for the parks system.
The amendment, co-sponsored by Sup. Liz Sumner, set the money aside in an account and directed Milwaukee County Parks to return to the board in 2023 with a plan for the money, but it had to be spent on the following: opening and staffing aquatic facilities, improvements to Mitchell or Koziuzsko Community Center, maintenance of critical infrastructure, seasonal staffing or community outreach.
The department returned in January with a list of 23 items to spend the money on, ranging from $17,000 to $200,000. The board approved the projects during its meeting Jan. 2.
“Making strategic investments in our parks helps us keep Milwaukee a place where people want to live, work, and visit,” the chairwoman said in a statement. “With limited resources at our disposal, I am happy to see us maximize our dollars with one-time projects that will make a tangible difference in the lives of our residents.”
Mitchell Park and Kosciusczko Community Center
Approximately $302,000 will be spent in Mitchell Park and the park’s Community Center under the parks plan for the money.
This includes $150,000 in maintenance and $25,000 for new HVAC controls at the community center. The center’s entire HVAC system has needed replacing for at least a decade. The board funded the design of a new system in 2015, but has yet to fund its installation. In 2019, the department had to close the facility because of electrical issues.
Both Mitchell and Kosciusczko Parks are receiving $30,000 for studies that will look at ways to ecologically rehabilitate the park lagoons.
The Mitchell Park Domes are also receiving new HVAC controls ($50,000) and $17,293 worth of general maintenance.
Seasonal staffing in the parks system is critical to opening parks facilities — like swimming pools — and major events like the annual July 4 fireworks, as well as the general upkeep of the system during the summer months.
The department will put $50,000 toward recruitment and retention for seasonal labor, including lifeguards. It will also use $100,000 to expand its annual funding for seasonal staff.
Pavilion and Restroom Renovations
The department is planning to spend $200,000 on maintenance and renovations for pavilions and restrooms around the system in 2023. Parks is planning to spend $10-$15,000 each at 10-13 facilities around the system.
This was the single largest spending item in the entire package proposed by parks.
Splash Pad and Wading Pool Repairs
With most deep well pools around the system closed in recent years for lack of lifeguards, the splash pads and wading pools are the few aquatic facilities that parks has been able to reliably open each summer. The department is setting aside $75,000 for maintenance and repairs, as needed, in 2023.
The following list includes the rest of the projects earmarked for these funds, with project explanations from the department:
- Washington Park and Madison Park High Voltage ($150,000) – “Both parks have high voltage electric service which can be dangerous to staff and parks users. Over the past few years, Parks has been systemically removing similar high voltage services at King Park, McCarty Park and other locations. This initiative will help ensure safety at these two northside parks.”
- Major Maintenance ($50) – “a contribution to the Parks’ Major Maintenance account for facility repairs that occur systemwide to take place during the year.”
- Athletic facility repairs ($95,000) – “This initiative will fund improvements to athletic facilities systemwide to include, but not limited to re-striping tennis or pickleball courts, basketball courts, ball diamonds, or mixed-use soccer or football fields.”
- Playground resurfacing ($75,000) – “funding to repair the poured in place rubber surfacing at various playgrounds.”
- Lincoln-Blatz Pavilion ADA restroom ($35,000) – “creation of an accessible restroom facility at the Lincoln-Blatz pavilion at Lincoln Park.”
- Traffic calming systemwide ($50,000) – “funding to support physical infrastructure and other installations that reduce reckless driving and improve pedestrian safety throughout the parks system.”
- Bench replacements systemwide ($25,000) – “funding to replace aging benches throughout the parks system.”
- Picnic bench replacements systemwide ($25,000 – “funding to add new or replace aging picnic benches throughout the parks system.”
- Foot Traffic Analytics Software ($30,000) – “funding to help identify attendance and user trends for parks.”
- Public engagement programs ($20,000) – “funding to expand public outreach and create engagement tools.”
- Temporary labor services ($60,000) – “funding to support temporary services for labor where these services are needed which historically has supported accounting services.”
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