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Park near stadium wasn't on Park Board's Christmas list

  • Blog Post by: Bill McAuliffe
  • January 15, 2014 - 9:10 PM

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board stands to be given land for a new downtown park  that would be the centerpiece of the proposed commercial and residential development next to the new Vikings stadium.

But parks officials are viewing it, for now, as the equivalent of a surprise puppy. Maybe even a Great Dane puppy.

The two-block park, being called  "The Yard" by developers, would cost at least $300,000 per year just to mow, shovel and light, and that's neither in the park board's budget nor in any agreement with the city, which intends to buy the land and donate it to the park board, noted park board President Liz Wielinski.

The park's highly visible location would also make it "the perfect protest park," demanding a police presence, added commissioner Scott Vreeland. That and other basic services could elevate the operations cost to $2 million a year, Wielinski and Vreeland said.

Capital improvements to house programming -- say, an amphitheater, gardens, artistic features or other major attractions -- could cost $25 million to $40 million, they said, after adjourning a meeting examining a five-year capital improvement program that makes no mention of "The Yard." 

"It's going to have challenges other parks don't, just because of its location," she added. "It's the gift that keeps on taking."

She added that the park could lead to some kind of scheme, not in place in Minneapolis now, by which the park board could be a landlord while the park could be operated by an independent group, such as a conservatory. That very thing -- the park board's controlling role over parkland in the city -- is the subject of a lawsuit now being argued in Hennepin County District Court.

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