by Craig Wilson
On Wednesday March 16, ‘Save Our Minneapolis Parks’ announced their support for a resolution brought forth by Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Council President Barb Johnson at the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, with the support of Mill City area Council Member Jacob Frey. If passed, the resolution would set the stage for a concurrent ordinance between the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Park Board) and the Minneapolis City Council. This ordinance would provide 20 years of new funding for the neighborhood parks system.
Park Board Superintendent Jayne Miller presenting to the Minneapolis City Council. Save Our Minneapolis Park supports filled the Council Chambers and overflowed to an adjacent room with televised access. (Photo by Tony Sterle)
Council Member Goodman, who represents downtown Minneapolis on the City Council with Council Member Frey, gave an impassioned explanation for the evolution of her thinking about the funding gap for neighborhood parks. She commended the Park Board for its sound due diligence evaluating and determining the funding gap for neighborhood parks, which was presented to the Council in fall 2015. Goodman said that after learning about the funding gap, she approached Council President Barb Johnson about the historic opportunity for the City and Park Board to work out a compromise to fund the gap for neighborhood parks. Goodman acknowledged the extraordinary role our parks play in making Minneapolis such an exceptional and livable city and emphasized how, in her tenure on the Council, she has structured many deals but that this was the most significant and historic. Goodman acknowledged that a compromise would bring the City and Park Board closer together through collaboration versus the potential for contention with a referendum. Council Member Frey added, “A world class park system requires adequate funding to address deferred maintenance. We can’t pass the buck to future generations all while our parks struggle – we need action now.”
Goodman and Johnson worked with Mill City area Park Board Commissioner Anita Tabb and Park Board President Liz Wielinski on the compromise. Said Commissioner Tabb, “I am thrilled by this historic agreement between the City and the Park Board that will continue Minneapolis’ tradition of providing its residents with exceptional parks for generations to come. In this age of contention and political gridlock, this is model that I’d like to see more of in the world!”
“This resolution is a major victory for our parks, for our city, and for the relationship between the City Council and the Park Board,” said Save Our Minneapolis Parks Chair Mark Andrew. “We are proud to stand behind the resolution and will do everything in our power to see it successfully passed. New, sustainable funding is desperately needed for our neighborhood park system. We must get this done for the tens of thousands of children and the six million visitors of all ages who use our neighborhood parks on an annual basis.”
Until an ordinance is officially passed by the City Council and Park Board, Save Our Minneapolis Parks will continue to support placing a referendum on the 2016 election ballot. Save Our Minneapolis Parks is a citizen-led group supporting new funding for our neighborhood park system in 2016. The organization was recently endorsed by the Trust for Public Land, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, Stonewall DFL, the Sierra Club, and the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis.
Craig Wilson is a Principal with Sustology, a third-party independent sustainability advisory firm that brings sustainable solutions to businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves on the Downtown Public Realm/Parks Steering Committee – Pathways to Places – and on the St. Anthony Falls Regional Park Citizens Advisory Committee.