District 9 citizen: Would you please expand on what your proposed public-private partnerships for the parks would look like and how they would work?
Don Schwartz reply: Thank you for reaching out to us. Please see the attached postcard. Under my Goals, WORK with the Milwaukee County Intergovernmental Cooperation Council and their Parks Committee and advocate for a separate Parks District to replace the current model, which is broken and unsustainable.
If you have other questions, please feel free to contact me.
District 9 citizen: I already have your postcard, which is why I asked the question.
Your response was a boilerplate stump speech message with buzz words but didn’t answer my question, which was;
Would you please expand on what your proposed public-private partnerships for the parks would look like and how they would work?
Don Schwartz reply: OK. After Milwaukee County had its most significant political scandal in over 100 years in 2002, they tried closing many county pools, including Hales Corners Pool. And they had a bid of approximately $360,000 to tear down the pool house and, including, the pool.
They took this action without consulting with the people in southwestern Milwaukee County. So, starting in February 2003, I worked with former County Supervisor Paul Cesarz, and we co-founded the Friends of Hales Corners Park & Pool.
In April 2003, I was elected to the Village Board in Hales Corners, and from 2003 to 2008, I forged a public-private partnership between the Milwaukee County Parks Department, the SW YMCA, the Friends of Hales Corners Park & Pool, and private businesses in the community including a couple of foundations.
We held dozens of fundraisers, reset the ticket pricing at Hales Corners to reflect the 2002s and not the 1970s. But unfortunately, Milwaukee County Parks didn’t put one dime into keeping the pool open for five years. It’s their asset, of course, but private efforts funded it.
In 2007, I forged another public-private partnership that involved the Village of Hales Corners.
The Village leased the pool from Milwaukee County Parks that summer, and an agreement was struck between the Village that the Friends of Hales Corners Park & Pool would pay for any costs associated with operating the pool.
Well, that summer, the pool was leaking over 70,000 gallons of water a day, and the Hales Corners Fire department would refill it every day.
Finally, after three weeks of watching county staff trying to figure out where the leak was coming from, I called a friend who owned a scuba diving company.
They came in and fixed the leak within a half-hour.
For the next 6-7 years, the scuba diving company rented the pool from Milwaukee County for their training exercises.
So another public-private partnership was forged. Also, that summer, the water bill to the Friends of Hales Corners Pool was just under $20,000.
So I wrote a grant to a private foundation, and the water bill was paid back to the Village of Hales Corners.
I was told that this public-private partnership between Milwaukee County, the Village of Hales Corners, our Friends group and private businesses was the first in the history of the Milwaukee County Parks department.
In my mind, there are a ton of possibilities like this one just waiting to be implemented.
We need a new mindset.
In 2010 the Veterans Memorial Committee wanted to build a Veterans Memorial in Hales Corners Park. I played a crucial role in raising just under $300,000 for the Veteran Memorial.
Private businesses funded the Memorial in Hales Corners Park, an asset of Milwaukee County.
I was the master of ceremonies for the groundbreaking on September 11, 2011, and at the dedication on May 27, 2012.
This is another example of a public-private partnership.
I have dozens of examples of public-private partnerships that have worked in Hales Corners and throughout Milwaukee County.
The good news is that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council, which consists of all the Village Presidents and Mayor’s from all 19 municipalities and Milwaukee County, has finally formed a park committee.
I plan to work with all the 19 local governments and help figure out how we might create and organize a separate parks district with the help of local governments, private businesses, and foundations.
I will bring this focus to Milwaukee County District 9. In addition, I have two more public-private partnerships currently underway in southwestern Milwaukee County.
I’m willing to meet you in Hales Corners Park and walk you around if you have additional questions and show you more if you are interested.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
District 9 citizen: Thank you for your complete answer. Your efforts, persistence and results impress me and my wife.