Thursday, January 29, 2015

The 'sell assets' crowd says O'Donnell Park is sellable "surplus." Surplus?

Talk about sour grapes after a deal for O'Donnell Park with Northwestern Mutual fell through.

C'mon, people: this is no way to manage public space:

A resolution to put O’Donnell Park up for bid to private developers was introduced Jan. 27 at a meeting of the Parks, Energy & Environment Committee of Milwaukee County’s Board of Supervisors. 

It was a substitute for a resolution requesting bids to repair a small area of O’Donnell’s roof and to explore increased programming and income options for O’Donnell Park.)  It will be presented to the full board Thursday, February 5 at a 9:30 a.m. meeting.

The resolution to offer this 147-year-old public park to for-profit bidders was sponsored by Anthony Staskunas, Deanna Alexander, and Steve Taylor, who voted for it in committee. A few highlights:

  • Approving the resolution will mean O’Donnell Park is “declared surplus,” a term applied to property no longer of any use to the County, such as outdated vehicles or vacant buildings.
  • An RFP would cover “the entire O’Donnell Park Parcel” with “full redevelopment of the southern half of the parcel” and redevelopment on the northern half “consistent with the parks-only provision of the existing deed restriction.”
  • Until O’Donnell Park is sold, “any revenue generated by the Parking operations shall be used to first pay off debt related to O’Donnell Park, then towards cash financing of any needed repairs, and then any excess shall be added to the Parks Department’s budget…” 
  • That’s an immediate $1.3 million slashing of the parks’ maintenance budget, taking place mid-year in the budget cycle. It will mean major cuts to upkeep of all parks.

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