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Abele Administration Asks for More Domes Funding but Offers Few Details about Plans

County executive vetoed $500,000 for repairs last summer

Mar. 8, 2016
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On Tuesday, members of the Chris Abele administration asked for an additional $700,000 to make short-term repairs to the Show Dome, with the two additional Mitchell Park Domes to be repaired sometime in the future with more funding that can’t be estimated at the moment.

But contrary to Abele’s earlier claims that Domes’ long-term repairs or renovations could cost up to $75 million, Facilities Manager Division Director Jeremy Theis said that the numbers could “be all over the place” and he wouldn’t provide an estimate for the long-term work.

Abele shut down all three Domes in early February after flakes of concrete fell from the structure. Abele immediately called for discussions about the Domes’ long-term future and suggested they were at the end of their lifespan. Despite asking for public input, Abele didn’t attend a Milwaukee County Board-led public hearing on the Domes’ future, nor has he successfully made the case that the Domes cannot be saved.

Rather, according to multiple warnings from engineering consultant Graef USA, the Domes need a long-term maintenance plan as well as short-term repairs. Abele hasn’t created that plan as requested, nor did he support a $500,000 allocation for Domes repairs made last summer—amid those warnings—calling the funding “flippant and irresponsible decision-making.”

Now, Abele is using that funding for netting for the Show Dome and to hire consultants. He also wants to put together a steering committee to develop a master plan for the Domes as well as a public input process, according to Tuesday’s testimony, and install netting within the Domes so that they can reopen safely in the short term.

The officials made their requests in front of the Milwaukee County Board’s Parks, Energy and Environment, chaired by Gerry Broderick. 

Instead of approving the Abele administration’s request, supervisors approved 6-0 to form a task force to look at all alternatives for the Domes’ future, which will report back to the committee in September, as well as an additional $500,000 for short-term repairs for the Domes. The resolution also sets timelines for reopening the Domes—the Show Dome on May 1, the Tropical Dome by Aug. 1 and the Arid Dome by Sept. 1.


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