Memorial benches, plaques and trees in parks have proliferated so much that the city is considering a policy regulating them.
Four or five times a year, Burnsville receives a request to place a memorial in one of its parks.
It could be a plaque or a bench or a tree in memory of a loved one or in honor of someone who contributed significant time or money to the city.
Now, the frequency and variety of requests is increasing, and “these memorials have the potential to significantly alter the aesthetic look of the park system,” Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Terry Schultz said in a recent report to the parks and natural resources commission.
He has asked for a policy to guide the acceptance and placement of new memorials and to address what will happen to existing memorials that may be out of line with the new policy.
After hearing his presentation in a work session, the parks commission recently suggested that four types of memorials be permitted: a bench, a tree, a paver brick and a donation to the park.
That would rule out plaques. Plaques on picnic shelters and dugouts are becoming an issue because they are not uniform in size and some are quite large, Schultz said.
They can end up grouped in certain spots where they are noticeable, he said. “I don’t think it has gotten out of control. But we want to make sure it doesn’t get out of control.”
Schultz also recommends against ground placards in front of trees that are donated as memorials. Names could be placed on a bench, but the bench must be put in a location where the city wants a bench, he said.
One option under consideration is to create a memorial pathway with paver bricks in the city’s popular Alimagnet Dog Park, Schultz said.
As for existing memorials, “staff is suggesting that all existing memorials in the park system be allowed to remain in place until they need to be replaced or significantly repaired. At that time they should be removed or replaced with one of the options” approved, Schultz said.
Any policy change would have to be approved by the City Council. The parks and recreation commission will discuss it further and adopt a recommendation in a regular session on Jan. 27.