With her budget newly flush with money to fix and maintain neighborhood parks in Minneapolis, Superintendent Jayne Miller Wednesday identified bolstering investment in golf courses and other special facilities as a new budgetary priority.
Miller proposed a 10 percent increase in the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board budget for 2017. More than half of the increase represents a $3 million increase in staffing to better maintain parks and oversee construction projects.
The big increase was no surprise given that the Park Board gave her that direction in May after it struck a 20-year neighborhood park deal in April with City Hall. Besides the staffing increase, that deal also calls for the city to provide an extra $8 million for neighborhood parks that shows up on the city's books.
But Miller said she's taking steps to try to boost the amount of money the enterprise fund yields for reinvesting in its special facilities. That fund includes such facilities as golf courses, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, skating arenas, concessions and paid parking spots.
She said that the fund needs to earn more than $2.4 million annually for proper reinvestment in those facilities, with golf alone representing about one-third of the investment need. But for the past 10 years, the fund has yielded only $142,367 annually on average. That's partly because it has helped to subsidize other park expenses and debt on money the Park Board has borrowed for creating or repairing major facilities.
Miller budgeted the fund's earnings in this year's budget at $698,057, and wants to increase that to $986,483 next year. She said industry standards would call for reinvesting $125,000 annually per golf course, with renovation of a single green running $35,000.
She said fuller play this year at flood-damaged Meadowbrook and Hiawatha courses should bring more money, and that reopening the sculpture garden in 2017 after renovation should reduce its operating loss.
The proposed neighborhood park renovation and repair program hews generally to the program outlined by Miller in April. That program adds a set of racial, poverty and other demographic criteria to give more priority to inner-city parks.
The project list includes facility replacement or renovation in these neighborhood parks previously slated for 2017 work in the board's five-year program: Bossen Field, Folwell, Luxton, Matthews, Painter, Peavey, and Washburn Avenue totlot. In some cases, the work is supplemented by the new city capital spending.
The proposal adds these neighborhood park projects funded by the new city spending: Bassett Creek, Bryant Square and Central Gym.
Much of the initial $8 million in 2017 will be used for more prosaic park work across the city, with $800,000 for access improvements, $500,000 for building rehab, $900,000 for roofs, $500,000 for lighting, and $500,000 for sidewalks. That's because those projects need less advance planning than improvements in such facilities as playgrounds, ballfields, play courts and wading pools, she said.
Public hearings on the proposed budget are scheduled for Nov. 2 and 30.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438