Park People Timeline– 2000s


Office moved to War Memorial Center.

Volunteers of the Year Diane Cowan and Anne Linskens.

The growth in friends groups comes at a time when the county parks operating budget has dwindled to less than half its 1980 level.

By luring residents back to the parks, advocates hope to create a volunteer corps to take on some projects the county can’t afford and spread support for greater park funding, according to Park People Executive Director Susan Slocum. The Park People’s new push stems from a re-evaluation of its own mission and realization as early as 2000 “that there needed to be an overall change in the parks.” The question became what can we do to return citizens to the parks, to make these the living rooms of our neighborhoods again,” Slocum said.

Lafayette McKinney serves as President.

In a move to enhance the visibility of The Park People and also preserve funds for Parks instead of operating costs, TPP starts the Milwaukee Environmental Consortium (MEC) with other environmental organizations. MEC is a group of organizations passionate about the environment, run cooperatively by the member groups who each have a vote on all matters. MEC fosters collaboration through shared resources, incubates new initiatives, and activates diverse champions for a clean and healthy environment in Greater Milwaukee. MEC provides office space and services as well as the communal benefit of sharing, learning and collaborative opportunities. MEC fosters the development of new groups by helping them get started under the MEC umbrella, receiving the full benefits of being a non-profit organization. Members include individuals, informal groups and non-profit organizations with missions focused on the environment and sustainability. The goal is to support the people and the work of Greater Milwaukee’s environmental community. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation and also the Non-Profit Management Center were instrumental in facilitating this change.

The Park People planned a symposium to bring the public, current policymakers, and government officials together to examine the status of the parks today. Symposium panelists included:

  • County Executive Thomas Ament;
  • Dennis Wedall, budget director of the Milwaukee County Parks;
  • Paul Hathaway, associate director of the Milwaukee County Parks;
  • David Meissner, director of the Public Policy Forum;
  • Karen Ordinans, chair of the county Board of Supervisors;
  • Margaret Harvey, chair of the Park People and landscape architect;
  • Dan Diliberti, county supervisor and member of the Parks, Environment, and Education committee;
  • Penny Podell, county supervisor and also a Parks, Environment and Education committee member;
  • Phil Evenson, director of SEWRPC; and
  • Jim McGuigan, county supervisor.



Park People Stewardship and Teschner Awards started

Milwaukee County Supervisor Jim McGuigan was named the recipient of the 2001 Teschner Award for Outstanding Public Service by The Park People. McGuigan was chosen for the award based on his commitment to Milwaukee County Parks and specifically for his involvement in the development of the county’s newest park, Kohl Park.

Park People raise funds to restore the colonnade, walkways and landscaping at the memorial for Dr. Schneider, the donor of Doctors Park, including historical benches.

Volunteer of the Year Dr. Ken Solis for his work on Weed-Out!



Suggests that creation of an independent parks district. modeled after other districts around the country is needed noting county tax dollars earmarked for parks has shrunk from 24% in 1983 to 9% in 2001.

Non Profit Management Center assists with a Board Reorganization.

John Vandlik serves as President. John gives countless volunteer hours to promote a fiscally independent Park District.

TPP starts two new annual awards including Teschner Award for Outstanding Public Service to recognize public officials and the Steward of Year Award recognizing persons who enhanced parks.

Fiscal Policies for Friends Group formation written and adopted thanks to Executive Director Susan Slocum, Board Members John Vandlik and Dave Kinnamon.

Volunteer of the Year Darryl Heron.

Trimbourn Farms transferred to Milwaukee Historical Society. The project was consuming 50% of staff time however, this also meant TPP needed to find a new revenue stream since it received strong revenue from the annual Arts and Crafts festival.

Revision of Bylaws with goal to have a smaller and more engaged Board of Directors, Previously had over 40, now Bylaws state between 18-24. Revisions also created an Advisory Council allowing long time members to resign from Board but maintain an official connection.

Park Friends Group committee formed with goal to encourage formation of Friends Groups and serve as formal liaison to neighborhood park groups as well as groom board members.

TPP consolidates expenditures into one budget, previously Weed Out, Trimbourn and other projects were kept as separate budgets with independent expenditures and revenues.

Adopted a Public Park Policies position paper which were policies that Board of TPP endorsed with respect to the County’s management of the park system. Having Public Park Policies positions defined ahead of time, allowed TPP to react and advocate for TPP interests in a more responsive and timely manner with the media and with County Government officials which also helped to raise the public profile of TPP.



Website launched; has since changed to

Betty Czarapata, the former director of the Weed-Out! Program passes. Betty devoted much of her life to helping keep invasive plants from taking over Milwaukee-area parks. She authored `Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest’.

Office moved to Milwaukee Environmental Consortium on Farwell Avenue.

Advocates (along with POP) for sales tax to support parks.

Advocates against a hospice being built on a parkway.

Susan Slocum, executive director of the Park People, testifies that volunteers from her group do not supplant park laborers, but do remove invasive plant species, such as garlic mustard and burdock, from the parks — an important chore that would otherwise go undone. Susan’s testimony was in response to the president of AFSCME Local 282, representing county parks workers, who pledged to ban all volunteers from performing any work in county parks.

Susan Slocum becomes President of Milwaukee Environmental Consortium.



Friends Group Initiative started. Park People hires Melanie Houston as Friends Group Coordinator. Melanie assists in the start-up and coordination of 18 Friends Groups over the next two years.

Advocates (along with POP) against docking Navy Cruiser at Veteran’s Park.

Jim Price serves as President.

First Annual Friends Group Gathering reported 36 Friends Groups to date. Melanie Houston instrumental in forming many of these organizations.

Friends of Bradford Beach form with goal to “bring back” Bradford Beach. Deb Lukovich instrumental, later becomes Park People President.

TPP surveys 3,800 members and volunteers from its lists of engagement and receives 411 responses. Objects of the survey are to:

  • Test various program interests/membership benefits by category
  • Test membership price points
  • Measure satisfaction with current park conditions
  • Test willingness to pay increases taxes dedicated to park support
  • Test interest in local park support groups



Friends of Hoyt Park form and mobilize to launch a $5.5 million fund-raising campaign to speed construction of a new community swimming pool in Hoyt Park.

Advocates (along with POP) for a Park District.

Wins best emerging origination award from Non-Profit Organization.

Melanie Houston serves as interim Executive Director.



Jim Goulee takes over as Executive Director. Goulee brings a wealth of experience having served 33 years with the Milwaukee County parks system, the last nine in charge of the southern region.

The Park People continues to take a stand on the need for a Park District. A new report conservatively estimates the cost of more than a decade of deferred parks maintenance at nearly $150 million.

The Park People sounds the alarm that the county park system is in crisis. With a 64% drop in the tax levy for parks since 1986, with two-thirds of its full-time work force lost over the same period and with bathrooms, pools and other park facilities in disrepair, the 15,000-acre system is at a turning point. New ways must be found or this emerald necklace will sink into irreversible decay, with dire implications for neighborhoods, the tax base and the region’s quality of life.

Milwaukee County Parks Foundation dissolves.



Milwaukee County Parks Advisory Commission created to help address parks funding decrease. An Advisory Referendum to support creation of a .5%-1% sales tax for Parks and Culture was recommended. This was supported by the County Board, various union organizations, The Park People, Preserve or Parks and the Quality of Life Alliance. This was brought about by legislation to support parks recreation and culture.

Public Parks Alliance, Inc. set up as a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization to receive non-deductible contributions to lobby for legislation and support candidates for public office.

Bylaws revisions made that include allowing for electronic voting.

Advocates (along with POP) for sales tax to support the park system.

Deb Lukovich serves as President.

Volunteer of Year awarded to Lisa Hoerhner.



Television actress Jane Kaczmarek, a well-known TV mom from her years on “Malcolm in the Middle” is celebrity guest at The Park People Gala. She says her appearance was a result of an interview she gave in which she noted that one of her favorite childhood memories was playing at Jackson Park near the south side home where she grew up. The gala was billed as an eco-friendly event, and there were numerous green touches. The invitations were printed on plastic made from recycled soda bottles. Dinner included many locally grown foods, and the cocktail hour featured samplings of organic vodkas that are made locally by Rehorst. Among those at the event were Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Parks Director Sue Black.

Friends of The Monarch Trail starts up. The Trail begins just west of the Milwaukee County Parks Department headquarters on Watertown Plank Road.

Raffle held and sponsored by The Park People to raise funds for the parks with a goal of $250,000 including a donation from Harley Davidson for a Heritage Softail Classic and other prizes including a county “passport” for free admission to county golf courses, pools and other attractions; a bicycle; and free dinners for 10 at Lake Park Bistro and Coast restaurants.

Hosted forum for the candidates for Milwaukee County executive, including philanthropist Chris Abele and state Representative Jeff Stone (R-Greendale).

Launch of The Park People Wall Calendar underwritten by the Reiman Foundation.

Will Ross Foundation grant received.

Started PayPal account.

Coles Family Foundation grant received.

Constance P. Godfrey Foundation grant received.

Directors and Officers Insurance noted as a must-have for board members and policies secured.

Brian Russart hired by MCPD as Natural Areas Manager. He works closely with Weed-Out!

Volunteer of the Year Dave Kinnamon, long term board member and Treasurer.

Discussions between MCPD and TPP on donations and restricted fund policy, discussion included whether a fee should be instituted by TPP or a discount membership card provided to TPP members.

It was noted that The Park People has distributed over 2.5 million dollars to the parks to date.

$5,000 received from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Kopmeier Family Fund.



Listening sessions held and gather over 150 statements on what TPP can and should focus on emphasize energizing and supporting Friends Groups.

Strategic Plan adopted 2008-2012

Document retention policy adopted.

Concerns expressed on newly adopted Strategic Plan not mentioning advocacy, stating that TPP was originated as an advocacy organization in 1977. by Joy Teschner in response to the dismantling of Milwaukee County Parks Commission .

Application for Fiscal Sponsorship from Friends of Estabrook Park.

Treasurer Jim Ciurlik, CPA, provides accounting guidance and financial oversight to TPP fiscal policies. More transparency to board members with monthly profit and loss statements, budget of actual to year to date, and summary of donations accounts managed by TPP for MCPD.

Staffing changes made due to financial constraints, both staff members eliminated with invitation to reapply for a position as interim– Executive Director. One of the two applies and is chosen as interim Executive Director.

Administrative fee policy adopted.

Application for fiscal sponsorships from Friends of Juneau Park and Lafollette Park and ROMP accepted.

Policy adopted on securing a dedicated funding source for Milwaukee County Parks.

David Kinnamon, 30 year member of TPP Board and Treasurer passed on the records to Pete Tomasi. Recognition made of longstanding commitment by Quarles & Brady including service from Charlie Kamps.

Dan Cody serves as President.

Part-time contract accountant approved.

Strategic Plan Consultant Marsh Block hired.

Lincoln Park Friends approved for Fiscal Sponsorship.

Discussions on Parks Foundation assets, policy adopted regarding donor intent and restrictions and transparency.

Deborah Lukovich President.

Janet Tierney serves as Executive Director.


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*Corrections or additions to the timeline can be submitted to The Park People at [email protected]