It is to Ray Harris.
Harris, the longtime resident who suggested a conservancy to help pay for improvements to Loring Park, said he is done with the proposal after last week’s meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s innovation and development committee showed that many on the park board still had concerns about the potential project.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to continue to bash my head against the wall,” Harris said, on Tuesday.
At last week’s meeting, several commissioners admitted their doubts about a Loring Park conservancy, which was to be modeled after New York City’s Central Park Conservancy and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Alliance. The public-private partnership was touted by Harris as a way to solicit big, private dollars for park improvements.
While the framework of the potential conservancy presented explained that the parkland would remain under the board’s control, several commissioners weren’t convinced that the partnership wouldn’t come without some caveats.
“What’s the give? What’s the get?” asked Commissioner Scott Vreeland.
Superintendent Jayne Miller said there was “no way” that the endeavor would be successful.
Commissioner Jon Olson voiced his concern about the amount of time that had already been spent on the potential project saying, “Let’s do everybody a favor and just say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Harris.’”
While the park already benefits from the efforts of the Friends of Loring Park, Harris said that it would take millions of dollars to truly enhance the park, which he said needs improvements to the tennis courts, the Berger fountain and the lakes. Harris said, the conservancy had support from the downtown business community, but he wouldn’t disclose which specific businesses.
The outcome is unfortunate, Harris said.
“The Park Board is not ready to change the way it does business,” he said.
Board president John Erwin, who was reached out-of-town Tuesday, said the conservancy framework wasn’t on the agenda for next week’s committee discussion, but since he hadn’t spoken to Harris, he wasn’t willing to say if the conservancy discussion was indeed over.
“I long felt that neighborhoods should have more flexibility in doing things in their own neighborhood parks,” he said. “We need to figure out a way to facilitate that and let neighbors make changes to their neighborhood parks.”
Below is the framework that was discussed at the last meeting: