MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County Parks are in financial trouble and cutting staffing and spending isn't enough. But, high school students could be part of the solution.
On Thursday, the county board of supervisors will look at green-lighting a feasibility study for a parks youth corps.
The chairwoman, Marcelia Nicholson, thinks it could also be a way for young people in Milwaukee to earn around $15 an hour and possibly earn school credits. She says another potential benefit is that it would provide a positive outlet for teens. She told TMJ4 she's concerned about recent youth crime and reckless driving.
But the big headline is that this potential partnership between Milwaukee Public Schools and the parks could provide some much-needed help.
Right now, some public spaces are showing signs of neglect. You may have noticed overgrown grass in parks this summer or trash that hasn't been picked up.
The chairwoman says gaps in maintenance are all linked to budget constraints.
"It will also solve our deferred maintenance issue, we're currently at a half billion dollars in deferred maintenance but we only get about 10 million in revenue a year. So right now with 1/3 of the staff and 15,000 acres to maintain, each parks employee is maintaining about 28 Lambeau Fields worth of parks."
The chairwoman says partnerships, like this parks youth corps, could be a way forward. So could a sales tax which could create a dedicated funding source.
But grass-roots engagement is a piece of the puzzle too. If you enjoy our green spaces county leaders are encouraging you to take some ownership, clean up trash if you see it, and support the beer gardens and golf courses at public parks. That's the main source of revenue right now.