MILWAUKEE — A pilot plan to convert Red Arrow Park’s ice-skating rink into a temporary roller-skating rink now has to wait after county executive David Crowley vetoed the $175,000 plan pilot Wednesday afternoon.
Just above Red Arrow Park, partners Terrence Clarke and Ellen Fine were enjoying the afternoon skating together.
The couple, for the past seven years, has spear-headed efforts to utilize the park’s out-of-season ice skating rink for roller skating.
“It’s a tease. It’s a big tease. It’s a smooth surface. It’s big enough to fit a lot of skaters on. It’s just a big tease,” Clarke said.
This year, the effort to get roller skaters got as close as it’s ever been to success.
Milwaukee County Supervisors voted to approve funding for the pilot program to convert the rink for roller skaters.
Wednesday, County Executive David Crowley vetoed the proposal, citing financial constraints. However, in a letter to the commissioners, he said he agrees with the general principle of the effort and would prefer to see it in next year’s budget conversation.
The push aims to bring a low-cost, family-friendly activity into the heart of downtown.
County Board Chair Marcelia Nicholson offered this statement:
“Roller skating at Red Arrow Park would provide a low-cost, family-friendly activity downtown that pushes us toward our vision of achieving racial and health equity. The administration is asking the County Board to approve over $3 million for bonuses and $50,000 for staff travel this Thursday. As we seek balanced use of taxpayer dollars, I stand with investing up to $175,000 in public services that the community is asking us to provide—a reimagined county service that will bring our community together and raise much needed revenue down the line. I am heartened by the community’s engagement on this issue and plan to continue doing everything in my power to make roller skating in Red Arrow Park a reality.”
A communications director with the Office of the County Executive provided the following statement Thursday:
"The County Executive believes there is no monopoly on good ideas, as he appreciates creative solutions to the challenges facing the County, and its residents, no matter where they come from. The proposal of a roller rink at Red Arrow Park for use during the summer months is an idea he supports in concept but would like to see a plan for sustainably funding such a project given the County’s annual structural deficit and looming fiscal cliff.This is another example of how our need to close the gap each year limits our ability to invest in County resources and amenities. Instead of starting each budget process focusing on investments, we begin by identifying what we can’t afford due to budget constraints.One sustainable, long-term way to make an impact on our budget problems is for the state to allow Milwaukee County to capture revenue from economic activity generated within its borders. Community and business leaders support this plan as estimates show it would generate over $150 million a year that could be used to decrease property taxes and fund local priorities.
We urge anyone interested in funding County amenities should visit moveforwardmke.com to learn more about how they can help us advocate for Milwaukee County."
An online petition was created by Clarke and Fine. It has amassed more than 500 signatures.