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Milwaukee County Parks Administration building

County Executive David Crowley names Guy Smith for Parks Director

August 9, 2020  |  Topics: Issues, Spotlight

By Patricia Jursik

County Executive David Crowley held a press conference Thursday, August 6, 2020 at Zeidler Square Park downtown to announce “Love Your Parks Roast,” a coffee roast being offered by Stone Creek Coffee.  This is the newest effort to raise money for the severely underfunded Milwaukee County Parks Department.

I received the real breaking news in a short conversation with the County Executive and Parks Director Guy Smith just prior to the formal conference: County Executive David Crowley disclosed to me that he will re-appoint Guy Smith as the Director of Milwaukee County Parks.  Smith was first appointed by former County Executive Chris Abele.  This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.  The Parks Director is a State of Wisconsin statutorily mandated position. Since the director is subject to confirmation by the Board of Supervisors, the Director of Parks is a leader on Park issues for all county citizens through their duly elected representatives. 

Traditionally the Parks Director was a highly vocal leader and cheerleader for Parks. Our county has not had a highly visible leader of parks during the Abele term in office reflecting the personal preference of this county executive, and our parks have suffered.

Guy Smith, who served as the director during the final Abele term in office, spoke during the press conference and underlined the severe funding shortage for parks. He stressed that while this has been worsened by the pandemic it has existed for many years.  Smith ultimately pointed out that lack of state revenue sharing is the primary cause of continued erosion of park services.  Smith prepared the public for more budgetary cuts for the newest round of budget planning, which will be coming in fall. The parks department will plan another million-dollar cut, which would be added to the $10 million reduction already caused by the pandemic. Smith gave a brief outline of some of the planned cuts, including closing or cutting indoor pools and reducing the deep well pool hours, cutting group activities such as concerts and reducing hours for many park programs such as the Mitchell Park Domes.

Regarding the Love Your Parks Roast press conference, County Executive David Crowley announced that Stone Creek coffee will donate $2.00 for every specially marked bag of Stone Creek Coffee sold.  Money raised will be donated to the Milwaukee Parks Foundation for benefit of the Parks.  Since the MKE Parks Foundation is controlled by a board, it will be interesting to watch how these donations actually are spent for benefit of public parks.

Related story: “Love Your Parks” campaign launched in Milwaukee County

Patricia Jursik is a former Milwaukee County Supervisor and current board member of Preserve Our Parks. Photo of Milwaukee County Parks Department Administration building by Eddee Daniel, board member of Preserve Our Parks.