When Jennifer O’Hear stood up to

speak at the mid-December meeting of Milwaukee’s new Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs (CECN) Task Force, the assembled civic leaders were surprised by her Common Ground T-shirt as well as by what she had to say. She told them something was missing from the Public Policy Forum’s report about Milwaukee’s cultural assets: It does not mention the places where children play and engage in sports every day.

Jennifer described the facilities in the report—such as the zoo, the Bradley Center, the Marcus Center, the Public Museum—as “field trip destinations” and urged the CECN task force to include in it’s discussions “the places where our kids play every single day, the public school playgrounds and athletic facilities.”


Members of the Fair Play Team will be urging their neighbors and organization members to help get out this message. In a study last spring, a Common Ground research report ranked two-thirds of public recreation facilities in Milwaukee County “fair” to “terrible.” Between $150 and $250 million are needed to upgrade these facilities.

At the Fair Play team’s January meeting, volunteer Mike Daun (retired Milwaukee deputy city comptroller) presented his research on how five other U.S. metropolitan areas have used a variety of public and private financing combinations to build and renovate cultural and recreational facilities. The model development profiles included private and public bonds, tax incremental districts, and local sales and use taxes. The various models will be discussed in great detail in Part 2 of the Public Policy Forum’s report to the CECN task force, due in late February or early March. The cities are Pittsburgh (and Allegheny Co.), St. Louis (and St. Louis Co.), Oklahoma City, the Denver Metro Area (seven counties), and Cleveland (and Cuyahoga Co.).

kids fair play

To find our more about FAIR PLAY, click HERE.

To get involved as a Common Ground volunteer or to donate to our causes, click HERE.

For more Common Ground news, read our January 2014 Newsletter.