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Brown Deer Park sign with a "This Park For Sale" sign attached

Make your voice heard: Support Milwaukee County Parks with a letter to the editor or to your county supervisor

August 3, 2019  |  Topics: Issues

Let’s not let things get to the point where we see “For Sale” signs on our parks!

We need your help protecting the parks and the public interest. In the face of the recent suggestion that Milwaukee County might consider selling park assets for financial reasons we would like you to know that Preserve Our Parks is categorically opposed and is working to ensure that parks obtain stable, secure and sustainable funding without divesting any parks or park lands.  You can help by writing a letter to the editor, to County Executive Abele, and to your Milwaukee County supervisor.

Talking points on county parks funding issue

The following talking points can be woven into your letter to the editor or letter to your local county supervisor. The best approach is to choose one or two points that resonant with you most and add your own story and perspective to support it.

  • The suggestion that we close or downsize Milwaukee County parks ignores widespread research about the measurable benefits of parks, including improved community physical and mental health; an increased property tax base; environmental resilience; civic pride; and a rationale to live or invest in Milwaukee County.
  • Selling Milwaukee County parklands is an environmental liability, particularly if the land is redeveloped for residential or commercial uses. These uses would not only reduce greenspace, but could increase stormwater water runoff, eliminate wildlife areas, affect biological diversity, reduce recreational opportunities and more.
  • Our parks, now more than ever, deserve to be funded with a dedicated, stable, and sustainable funding source.
  • Milwaukee County’s parks and its cultural assets are an attraction for residents and visitors alike.
  • Milwaukee County’s public parks were thoughtfully planned and developed to serve the county’s long-term needs. Once gone, these resources are irreplaceable and should not be sacrificed for short-term gain.
  • Here’s a modest but achievable goal: Resist the defeatist narrative that parks should be sold, liquidated or privatized. Doing so will make way for far-sighted and dedicated people to implement long-term strategies to appropriately steward irreplaceable public parks.
  • County residents have previously demonstrated their acceptance of an additional .5 percent sales tax increase; the state should give Milwaukee County the freedom to implement this or other strategies it deems appropriate to sustain its parks when supported by residents.
  • Everyone deserves a great park, and parks can help Milwaukee County become more inclusive and resilient if they remain intact, public havens for all.

Letters to the editor/representatives guidelines

Letters to the editor and to your local representatives are an effective way of letting decision-makers and the public know how you feel about an issue. Letters also help drive public discussion and shape public policy regarding an issue. Below are some tips to assist you in your letter writing:

  1. Be timely and concise.

Particularly for letters to the editor, letters that are short and timely are much more likely to get printed. Keep letters to under 200 words and “peg” them to a recent news story, issue or event.

If your letter is directed to a local leader, it is also important to be timely and concise, but you don’t need to worry as much about length as long as you remain on topic. Find your County Supervisor here.

  • Personalize your letter

Letters that speak from the heart are more effective than ones that simply list facts. Make sure the audience understands why you feel the way you do about an issue, and don’t be afraid to use the first person. Use the talking points above to get you started.

  • Send your letter using your personal email account.

Using your personal email account and your home address will increase the likelihood of getting a letter printed if you are sending a letter to an editor. Your local representative may also request your home address to ensure you are one of their constituents.

  • Be persistent.

Not all letters to the editor get printed, so trying more than once or at more than one paper can increase your chances of having a letter printed. Someone at the newspaper may call you to make sure you wrote the letter and tell you it will be published.

If you are sending a note to your local representative, he or she will likely acknowledge your letter, though it may take some time to respond.