Milwaukee County officials are continuing their push for short-term goals and long-term plans for the deteriorating Mitchell Park Domes.
A Milwaukee County Board committee came out in favor Tuesday of a proposal that would double the county’s current $500,000 capital budget for the domes. If given final approval, the additional money would pay for stopgap repairs to the domes, as well as a plan for coming years.
The spending proposal was announced by County Executive Chris Abele in February, not long after the domes were closed in response to the discovery of fallen concrete inside. Abele’s plans so far would have workers install netting to catch any more debris that might fall.
The county would also put money toward long-term planning for the domes. Estimates peg the cost of making lasting repairs at between $65 million and $75 million.
Tuesday’s vote came the same day as an announcement that county officials will be joining local residents to write up long-term plans for the domes.
In a news release, Abele announced the formation of the Domes Long-Term Planning Steering Committee. Its primary goal will be to seek public comments on the future of the three dome-shaped structures. In addition to county officials, the steering committee will include community groups such as Friends of the Domes, NEWaukee and the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative, among others. Officials have expressed hope that Abele’s spending plan will allow the Show Dome to reopen on May 1 and the remaining two structures to reopen by the end of 2016.
“Short-term fixes have been the status quo at the domes for more than 20 years,” Abele said in a news release. “I won’t keep pushing this problem down the road. It is time for us as a community and county to have a conversation about the best way to invest in the next phase of the domes and Mitchell Park.”
State Sen. Chris Larson, a Milwaukee democrat and Abele’s challenger for the Milwaukee County executive seat in an election to be held April 5, said Abele’s delayed response to the domes is costing county taxpayers money.
“When the Bucks owners wanted a new arena, Abele sprang into action with no public hearings and no concern for cost,” Larson said in a statement Wednesday, “but now Abele says he wants to have listening sessions on the Domes.
“If you compare the rushed Bucks deal with the Mitchell Park Domes you see this sudden change in attitude,” Larson added. “Instead of acting quickly like he did on the arena, Abele ignored his own Parks director and dragged his feet on installing nets in the Domes to catch falling debris.”
The county is responsible for $55 million of the $250 million taxpayers are to put toward the new arena’s construction in Milwaukee’s downtown. When interest costs are accounted for, the county’s contribution will come to about $80 million over the course of 20 years.
The current and former Bucks owners plan to finance the rest of the $500 million project. Follow @alexzank