From new ice rinks to soccer goals and other equipment, west-metro parks are getting about $2 million from Hennepin County in 2016.
The new grant money, approved Dec. 15 by the Hennepin County Board, is part of the annual Youth Sports Program, which uses money from the county's 0.15 percent sales tax levied to pay for Target Field.
Now in its eighth year, the program will help fund new equipment and facilities for 39 projects — 14 will be large facilities and 25 will go to purchase small equipment.
"It's always exciting to see the grants come in," Board Member Mike Opat said at last week's County Board meeting.
When the 30-year program ends, it will have funded $130 million for youth sports and library programs, added Board Member Peter McLaughlin.
"That's not a small amount … and it's making a material difference in our county," he said.
Among this year's grant winners, the largest amount — $225,000 — went to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for reconstruction of seven ball fields at Bossen Field.
St. Louis Park got $115,000 for a new outdoor refrigerated ice rink, pending city approval. Shorewood got $200,000 for synthetic turf on a multipurpose field at Badger Park.
And Plymouth got $200,000 for a new adaptive softball field and universal-access playground.
"It's really nice to finally have that opportunity," said Diane Evans, director of Plymouth's Parks and Recreation Department, adding that the city had applied for five years before getting a grant this year.
The money will help fund the $2.2 million project of building the new playground and adaptive softball field at Zachary Playfield, which will be smaller and have accessible, artificial turf. Both are to open in 2017.
The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission administers the program. For a list of all 2016 grant winners, go to hennepin.us/youthsports.