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Walker Does A Triple Flip Flop On O’Donnell Park

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on September 22, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

Even before they have any answers regarding the cause of the O’Donnell Park tragedy, people are talking about what the future of the park should be.   Scott Walker apparently is taking all sides on this issue.

In recent day, up until this past Wednesday, Scott Walker was in favor of fixing the parking structure and keeping it in the County’s possession.  On Wednesday, when a couple of supervisors, Mark Borkowski and Nikiya Harris said that they thought the structure should be demolished, Walker started to change his stance, ever so slightly:

Also Wednesday, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said while he favored repairing the damage to the O’Donnell garage, he was open to considering demolishing it if that’s what the County Board decides to do.

“I’d be willing to talk to the board” about demolition, Walker said. “I don’t have a hard-core feeling” that repair is the only option.

By Friday, Walker changed his position again, this time in favor of selling the structure to land developers:

Despite initial qualms, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker now backs the idea of selling the damaged O’Donnell Park to the highest bidder and using the proceeds to establish a parks endowment fund.

Walker said Friday the site might be worth as much as $30 million, based on a cursory review of downtown real estate prices. Sale proceeds could be used as a type of endowment fund to help pay for parks for years to come, he said.

“I’m more than willing to go along that path,” he said. “If that’s where we can get consensus on the (County) Board, that would be outstanding.”


Walker said to make redevelopment of the O’Donnell site financially feasible, “there would have to be a substantial development.” Walker said his office had received calls from developers expressing interest in the O’Donnell site.

Some cynical observers have already noted Walker’s quick flip flop on the issue.  But they are incorrect.  Walker is not just flip-flopping on this, he is doing a triple flip flop.

Back in October of 2007, when the County Board was going through Walker’s proposed 2008 budger, Paul Cesarz proposed selling the park.  Walker enthusiastically supported the idea, saying:

“I would still keep the park, but I think we could get a good deal for the parking,” Walker said in an e-mail. Cesarz and Walker drew a distinction between the open-air park area atop the ramp and the rest of the structure.

The entire development, however, has been known as O’Donnell Park since its creation. Walker said he had been approached last summer by a downtown developer interested in buying or leasing the O’Donnell Park ramp, but didn’t have time to work up a proposal to include in his 2008 budget. He declined to name the developer.

Interestingly, Walker on Friday echoed the park endowment idea that Cesarz had proposed three years ago.  So not only is he inconsistent, he takes other people’s ideas and pretends their is own.

Walker is not the only one doing reversals on their positions towards O’Donnelll Park either.

In 2007, Supervisor Lynne De Bruin opposed the idea of selling or leasing the park for development, citing the money being taken in by parking fees.  However, earlier this week, she is the one that first proposed the thought of selling the park off, calling it “prime real estate.”

Is it any wonder why Milwaukee County is so screwed up?  Not only can’t our elected leaders find any consensus with the other officials, they can’t even reach agreement with themselves.


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