Milwaukee County is moving forward to implement paid parking in Milwaukee County Parks by May 1st regardless of public opinion on the matter, an email from the Parks Department reveals.
The email, sent from Parks Director Jim Sullivan's senior executive assistant Paula Johnson-Boorse to a citizen concerned about the proposal, appears to be a form response to opposition to paid parking from members of the public.
"Milwaukee County is moving forward on its plan to generate new, dedicated revenue for Milwaukee County Parks," Johnson-Boorse wrote. "A public input session will be held at the Mitchell Park Domes Annex on February 6 at 6 pm to gain feedback on how the parking system should be implemented."
This indicates that the public will not have any ability to stop paid parking, but will merely be able to provide input on how the County should manage it. In other words, paid parking in Milwaukee County Parks will happen whether the public wants it or not.
"Plans for the system have yet to be formalized but may include variable parking rates and free days," Johnson-Boorse's email continued. "Additionally, parking will not be implemented in every Park, but rather be focused on regional and community Park facilities that have a regional draw."
As News/Talk 1130 WISN reported last week, the County Executive's office has already formed a workgroup to determine how to implement paid parking, and that workgroup has outlined plans for either paid parking lots or paid street parking in nearly every single regional park and parkway.
In the email, the Parks Department also threatens $1.6 million in cuts to park services if paid parking is somehow stopped.
"Cuts of that size could impact signature Parks facilities that our community needs and loves," explained Johnson-Boorse. "Our goal, like yours, is to strengthen the park system and keep access open to the millions who enjoy the parks, trails, beaches, and facilities, which is why we support the implementation of a Parks paid parking system."
The email blames a "lack of funding, together with rising costs of pension and healthcare obligations" for the need to charge park-goers for parking.
Paula Johnson-Boorse Amendment
In an interview on News/Talk 1130 WISN's "The Dan O'Donnell Show," Melissa Baldauf with the Milwaukee County Executive's office also promised parks service cuts if paid parking isn't implemented.
"If we don't have money for things, we can't run them," she said. "We can only operate the programs and services that the County Board funds. If the County Board cuts the budget again, then yeah, there will have to be a reduction in parks services."
Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic introduced an amendment "placing a moratorium on the implementation of a new pay-to-park program along the County-controlled streets and parkways along the Milwaukee County lakefront," but this would still allow for paid parking in dozens of other Milwaukee County parks.
Moreover, the amendment seems to allow paid parking in parking lots along Milwaukee's lakefront such as Bradford Beach.
Marina Dimitrijevic Amendment
After the public hearing at the Mitchell Park Domes Annex on February 6th, the Milwaukee County Board's Finance Committee will hear the County Executive's office's plans for paid parking during its meeting on March 15th with a vote by the full Milwaukee County Board during its meeting on March 22nd.