Nothing final about the effort for still-vacant land
Campaigning in 2011 for a one-year stint as Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele said he would establish "a final Park East Plan that will turn the vacant land into job-generating development.”
The goal was turning the long-vacant downtown Milwaukee area into something productive.
When we think of a plan, we think of a document -- something that provides vision as well as detail in terms of getting from here to there. When we asked Abele deputy chief of staff John Zapfel about this promise, he didn't give us a plan, but rather described some actions the county executive has taken.
He said Abele's plan includes establishing a strong county Economic Development Department, "deepening the linkages” with the city on economic development and "changing the dialogue about the opportunity that exists in the Park East.”
More to the point, Zapfel said the county worked closely with the city in the failed attempt to get Kohl's to move its headquarters to the Park East from Menomonee Falls. He said the county offered about $20 million of incentives, including giving the land, providing up to 1,000 bus passes for a year and up to $5 million in bond financing for infrastructure relocation.
Running unopposed in the April 2012 election, Abele may be able to accomplish this in a full term.
But he pledged to do it in one year and did not.
We rate this a Promise Broken.
Email interview, Milwaukee county executive deputy chief of staff John Zapfel, Feb. 16, 2012
Chris Abele campaign, news release, March 24, 2011