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Gurda appointed to Parks Advisory Commission

June 21, 2007

One of Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway's appointments to the new Parks Advisory Commission is John Gurda of Bay View, the author of a number of books and articles on Milwaukee's history.

The commission is charged with providing policy and funding guidance to the County Board on issues such as budget, preservation and maintenance needs of county parks.

Gurda said parks are "certainly a priceless part of our heritage and something we need to preserve and pass on to the people who follow us."

Maintaining and improving the county parks system has become increasingly difficult in recent years as county budgets have been squeezed.

"(County parks) are at a point now where they're just not fraying, they're starting to crumble," Gurda said. "In inflation-adjusted dollars, there is a lot less money for our parks than there was 20 years ago."

Just how to resolve that issue has been a matter of lively debate throughout the community in recent months.

"The proposals include a separate parks district, a dedicated sales tax and higher property taxes which is an alternative no one seems interested in pursuing," Gurda said.

Part of the commission's task is to sort through those and any other ideas for funding mechanisms to support county parks.

"I'm not going into it with any preconceptions," Gurda said. "The only preconception is that something has to be done."

Holloway also named Henry Hamilton III (to the commission. Hamilton is an administrative judge for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and has lived in Milwaukee for 28 years.

Holloway will appoint five more commission members, including a chairperson of the panel. All appointments must be confirmed by the County Board.

"I look forward to seeing the results this commission brings forward," Holloway said in a written statement. "Mr. Gurda and Mr. Hamilton will certainly bring a lot to the table."

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