Residents are skeptical about the city spending $100,000 on a master plan for Warner Park next year.
At a recent public meeting on the north side, people were given fliers questioning the expense. "If we have $100,000 to spend, let's put it to use right now helping people in our community who are truly hurting because of this Great Recession."
The flier blamed north-side Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway for the proposal. However, Rhodes-Conway did not add it to the budget, though she does support it. It's been in the works for a few years. The Common Council approved the Northport-Warner Park-Sherman Neighborhood Plan (PDF) in 2009, which called for a new master plan for Warner Park.
Funding was approved for the 2011 capital budget, but the plan never happened. Mayor Paul Soglin moved the plan into the 2012 operating budget because he did not want to borrow for the study, says mayoral aide Katie Crawley.
Since Rhodes-Conway took office in 2007, residents have regularly asked for her help on projects at Warner Park. These generally fall into two categories: those who want more amenities (a pool, more fields, concessions) and those who want more wild areas.
"The fundamental decision is how much of the park is going to be off limits to more intensive development, playgrounds, playing fields, etc.," Rhodes-Conway says. "If we just continue to make decisions on a piecemeal basis, the default is for people to ask for more active uses, and the default is to say yes."
Resident Hayden Fink says he's not opposed to the plan but thinks there are other pressing issues. "People are hungry, people are jobless," he says. "There are so many things that take precedence."
Fink also thinks the city's parks division can do the study much cheaper than a consultant.