Port alderman identifies seven parcels he believes city should consider selling
Port Washington Ald. Bill Driscoll told the Parks and Recreation Board earlier this month that he has identified seven park and open space parcels he believes the city could put up for sale.
The lands, he said, are underused and proceeds from the sales could be used to maintain the remaining parks and open spaces in the city.
“A lot of the parks are deteriorating,” Driscoll told the board March 12. “Where’s the money coming from to fix them up?
“Instead of having a whole lot of parks, maybe we’ve got to have fewer parks in great shape.”
Driscoll said he began his quest to get the city to sell unused and underused properties it owns after going through the last budget cycle as a member of the Finance and License Committee.
Tight budgets are affecting every department, he said.
“It doesn’t look real good,” he said, noting park equipment is costly to maintain. “It’s the same with our streets. The question is do we want to have a bunch of empty parks.”
It’s not just parks he is looking at, Driscoll said, but every parcel of land the city owns.
“It is a fiscal issue. It started as a fiscal thing for the parks,” he said.
Ald. Kevin Rudser, a member of the board, said a recent park study showed the city has a higher than average amount of parkland per person than most communities.
Board member Sue Kinas said the city needs to define what a park is, noting it isn’t always a parcel with play equipment. Open space is also important, she said.
“A lot of people like open space,” Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Imig said.
Imig said the parcels identified by Driscoll as properties that could be sold include:
• West Side Park at the corner of Grand Avenue and Park Street.
• Oakland Avenue Green, which was donated to the city by We Energies, on Oakland Avenue between Division Street and Coe Street.
• A 60-foot-wide former water tower site between Grand Avenue and Larabee Street that is maintained by the Parks Department.
• A landlocked parcel in the Lake Ridge Subdivision.
• A small parcel bordered by Jackson and Lake streets and the water filtration plant, maintained by the Water Department.
• A piece of city-owned property in the gully off Whitefish Road.
• Kaiser Park, a parcel along the ravine just north of Hales Trail.
Driscoll said he plans to meet with City Administrator Mark Grams to identify other city-owned parcels that could potentially be sold.
He will also meet with Parks Board members Patti Lemkuil and Ron Voigt to take a closer look at the city’s parklands before moving forward with his plan.
Some of the parcels may have deed restrictions limiting their use and ownership, Driscoll said, but that shouldn’t stop the city from considering their future.
“Personally, I believe they (deed restrictions) can be overcome,” he said.
Just because a parcel is looked at by the group doesn’t mean it will be sold, Driscoll said.
“If we decide it’s going to be green space forever, that’s fine,” he said. “At least we’ve look at it and decided.”