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Community Feedback Central in Rehabilitating Dilapidated Milwaukee Playgrounds

Carl Wycoff
MKE Plays seeks to transform 12 of Milwaukee's most dilapidated playgrounds

The Milwaukee City Council paved the way yesterday for the Milwaukee Bucks to construct a new basketball arena.

Some in the community, such as Common Ground, had hoped the city would tie support for the arena to the Bucks’ support for other recreational facilities in the community.

Credit Google Map
Playgrounds being targeted for the MKE Plays Initiative

"Unfortunately because of decreasing financial resources, the City of Milwaukee's resources that are dedicated to city parks has been declining over some time," says MKE Plays program manager Sara Zarate.

While additional support for recreational facilities from the Bucks did not happen yesterday, an article on the online Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service points out that a public-private partnership is already underway to rehabilitate some playgrounds and parks. 

MKE Plays is an initiative conceived by Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy to transform twelve of the city’s most deteriorated playgrounds into models for local collaboration and renovation.

"The parks that are on the slate for MKE Plays are parks that haven't seen much if any substantial investment over the last 15 to 20 years," program coordinator Joe Kaltenberg says.

Rather than simply tear down and rebuild the community parks, MKE Plays will involve communities to make the spaces truly unique, sustainable and places of pride.

"They're not just fixing what needs to be fixed, they're going with a whole new model for the park which is based on feedback from the communities," says Edgar Mendez, who wrote about the program for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.

Sara Zarate, who is also chief of staff to Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy, says this approach will truly make the parks last.

"If the community is engaged from the forefront in designing the public space that surrounds them, there's going to be an added benefit at the tail end of sustainability and utilization," she says.

Audrey Nowakowski is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, or NNS, is an online source for objective, professional multimedia reporting on issues in 18 central city Milwaukee communities.