UPDATE 06/24/10: The county board today rejected on a 9-10 vote the proposal to fast-track the lakefront takeover.
This is not the end of the battle, but it does force the proponents to go through the usual steps which includes public hearings.
The supervisors voting in favor of bypassing the rules are: Borkowski, Cesarz, Holloway, Johnson, Mayo, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmidt, and Weishen. Voting no were: Broderick, Coggs, DeBruin, Dimitrijevic, Harris, Jursik, Larson, Lipscomb, Thomas, and West.
You may recall that several months ago, I outlined a plan being put forth by the War Memorial Corporation that would take over additional park land on Milwaukee’s lake front to put in a new parking lot.
Since then a lot has happened.
The War Memorial Corporation (WMC), a private, non-profit corporation, is advancing a plan to expand the parking lot on the north side of the building (directly south of Veterans Park) to raise revenue from special event parking at the expense of the County Parks Department’s O’Donnell parking garage located right across the street, and to the detriment of public parkland.
At a recent meeting of the Lakefront Development Advisory Commission (LDAC) several weeks ago, the WMC plan was put on hold as park supporters turned out in force to express their concerns. Not only was this action wrong, it was also illegal. It recently came to our attention that the WMC plans to bypass all public input into this plan by having certain Milwaukee County Supervisors do an end run of existing procedures and public scrutiny and bring the plan up for a vote at their monthly meeting on Thursday (tomorrow).
The County Board is doing this through a parliamentary procedure known as “suspension of the rules,” and it does exactly what it sounds like: bypassing the existing and proper rules to ram this proposal through the County Board.
This morning Preserve our Parks and The Park People of Milwaukee County filed a “notice of claim” with the Milwaukee County Clerk which not only outlines the reason this is illegal, but lays out very clearly that Preserve Our Parks and The Park People are prepared to litigate this matter with the County if the WMC chooses to move forward with paving lakefront park land to expand a parking lot.
To avoid that costly and resource consuming litigation, we’re urging Supervisors to vote against suspending the rules and have issued a press release today outlining our opposition and held a press conference this morning to alert the media – and the public – to this high handed land grab.
The last thing we should be doing is paving over any lakefront park land to provide more parking for a private group whose tenants include for-profit businesses!
Please spend 5 minutes by joining us in calling your Supervisor to ask that they vote AGAINST this parliamentary procedure, they vote AGAINST this land grab on our lakefront, and they vote FOR our parks!
For information on how to contact your Supervisor, visit: http://county.milwaukee.gov/FindDistrictSupervisor or call the County Board switchboard at: 414-278-4222
Please join me in this important fight to halt the constant “nibbling away” at public park land for the benefit of private businesses!
I should note that about half of the County Board is already on record as being against the “suspension of the rules” being proposed by the other half who are in favor. I’ll get a list as soon as I know it of who is against this land grab and who’s in favor of it.
Our press conference this morning was attended by the three major networks in Milwaukee and I’ll post video of the conference as it comes in.