Chris Abele

Abele

We can only hope it isn’t contagious.

No, we’re not talking about the flu virus that has spread its nasty illness across Wisconsin in recent weeks, we’re talking about bad government ideas to make budget ends meet.

A particularly nasty strain has emerged just north of us in Milwaukee County, where County Executive Chris Abele and the County Board passed a budget last November that includes putting parking meters in county parks.

The fee plan was tucked into the Milwaukee County Parks budget and, while no meter fees have been set yet, county planners are eyeballing rates between $1 and $2.50 per hour. The metered parking plan is anticipated to raise $1.6 million in revenue countywide.

Predictably, the park parking meter plan is now drawing protests from park groups and some county supervisors who objected to it at a recent County Board meeting.

They undoubtedly suffer from the illusion that parks and parkways are amenities that provide families and others a relief from the hustle and bustle of urban living and should be supported by local government through the regular tax base. A hearing is now scheduled for Feb. 6 at the Mitchell Park Domes.

Bad ideas — like the flu — can often spread from one community to the next and we can only hope Racine and Racine County communities are spared this virulently bad idea.

We can picture scenarios where Racine families headed to North Beach for an afternoon in the summer sun have to turn back and go home to fetch a handful of quarters from the money jar or make a stop at an ATM to get some cash in order to feed the meter.

Or, perhaps golfers at Johnson Park scurrying off the course for a few minutes while they make their way to the parking lot to plug the meter between nines. (And, yes, we know that we would probably be in the foursome behind them waiting impatiently for the meter run to end.)

Parks and parkways are supposed to be for tranquil walks, family picnics, outdoor fun, grilling, golf, baseball and other stress-releasing recreational activities — without the hassle of plugging meters or keeping a wary eye out for the meter reader.

We much prefer local officials try revenue-generating ideas like the beer garden proposed for Caledonia-Mount Pleasant Memorial Park or the Franksville Food Truck Fest, Music and Movies, or the Kraut Fest, which do have admission fees because they are special events.

But taking a walk in the park or along Lake Michigan’s shoreline — here or in Milwaukee — shouldn’t come with an extra price tag. We hope local officials inoculate us from this bad Milwaukee idea.

Parks and parkways are supposed to be for tranquil walks, family picnics, outdoor fun, grilling, golf, baseball and other stress-releasing recreational activities — without the hassle of plugging meters or keeping a wary eye out for the meter reader.
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