We Need Your Help!!!
Operated by the Milwaukee County Parks department, the Bender Park boat launch located near the Oak Creek Power Plant on Lake Michigan has become dangerous to use due to excessive sand buildup. Even the smallest boats are becoming stuck in the deep sand that has deposited across the entrance of the Bender Park harbor. Larger boats, commonly found on Lake Michigan are unable to access the Safe Harbor that Bender Park should be providing for mariners traveling between Milwaukee and Racine.
Regular sand removal is required at many Lake Michigan boat launches in Wisconsin, including Bender Park and South Shore Park in Milwaukee County. Most public boat launch operators, including Milwaukee County, add a 30% surcharge to every boat launch fee to help pay for the increased costs of maintaining deep water launch facilities, including regular sand removal.
In order to make Bender Park usable as a launch ramp and Safe Harbor for mariners, the Milwaukee County Parks department must initiate a full scale dredging operation this spring. The last major maintenance dredging operation was in 2013 at a cost of about $130,000. Based on that dredging cost the cost of an equivalent maintenance dredging in 2022 would be about $225,000-$275,000.
The Milwaukee County Parks department is refusing to allocate the monies required to dredge Bender Park this year because they claim that there is no money in the budget for such a costly operation. Milwaukee County Parks has stated that, due to budgetary shortfalls, it may be several years before the unsafe conditions at Bender Park will be addressed.
During the last decade alone, since 2012 the Milwaukee County Parks department has collected well over 1 million dollars in boat launch fees. Wisconsin state law (NR code 1.90 & 1.91) requires all launch fees collected to be used only for the operation and maintenance of the boat launch ramps. In order to charge premium priced launch fees, the Milwaukee County Parks department has repeatedly certified to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that it will use all launch ramp proceeds to provide Great Lakes Safe Harbor facilities, including attendants and restrooms at all of the launch ramps it operates, including Bender Park.
We believe that launch ramp users have already paid for the needed Bender Park dredging through the launch ramp fees that the Milwaukee County Parks department has collected for many years. Milwaukee County must be held accountable for following Wisconsin law to provide the services and amenities that it promised in order to secure WDNR approval of it’s launch fee amounts.
Every boater in Wisconsin should care about Milwaukee County’s refusal to spend collected boat launch fees in accordance with Wisconsin state law. (NR 1.90 & 1.91). If Milwaukee County is allowed to not provide the services and amenities stipulated in the launch fee approval process, then other municipalities may follow Milwaukee County’s example.
What Can I Do?
Please call or email as many of the contacts listed below. Please use this information sheet to tell them to get the Bender Park boat launch ramp dredged in 2022, and maintained for future years.
Name Position Phone
David Crowley County Executive Of MKE Co. 414-278-4212
Steve Shea MKE County Board 2nd Vice Chair 414-278-4231
Jeremy Lucas Director of Administration & Planning 414-257-4775/414-639-5848
Allison Carlson Receptionist /Social Media 414 257-7275/414-257-6110
Jessie Rodriguez WI State Assembly 21st Dist (Rep) 608-266-0610
Mitch Sands Staff /Finance Committee to Jessie R. 608-266-0610
Kaitlyn Weder Staff /Finance Committee to Jessie R. 608-266-0610
Paul Smith Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Outdoors 414-426-4745
Dan Bukiewicz Mayor City of Oak Creek 414-208-5048
Mike Toman (4th Dist) Alderman 4th Dist Oak Creek 414-807-3337
PSB Office of Performance Strategy Manage and Oversee County Budget
Link County Services and Stakeholders
5 Year Plan due to director Admin Services in June Sherri Jordan (414) 278 – 5353 (bids)
Annual Budget as part of 5 year Plan
What Do They Do?
hold public hearings analyze operating capital requests on desirable and proper
Must hold public hearings on budget No Later than 1st Monday in November
After adopting of amendments to budget PSP submits to County Board