Backers of a referendum to raise more money for Minneapolis parks have called a meeting aimed at gauging support for such an effort.

A group calling itself Save Minneapolis Neighborhood Parks has called a Sept. 1 meeting at 7 p.m. at Powderhorn Park.

According to a letter sent by Mark Andrew, a former Hennepin County commissioner and former Minnesota DFL chair, the purpose of the meeting is to "help create a strategy to save our parks for another century."

Liz Wielinski, president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said she expects that the meeting will lead to the creation of a campaign organization that aims to sell any referendum proposed by the board to voters. The Park Board is expected to decide this fall whether to submit a funding referendum to voters in late 2016. That's when a referendum to renew an extra property tax levy for Minneapolis schools also is expected.

Andrew said the purpose of the meeting is to determine whether there's adequate public sympathy for a referendum.

Hennepin County's campaign finance filings show that no political committee supporting a referendum has yet been filed. Given that the park proposal is less familiar to voters, a considerable sum likely would be sought from political donors to persuade them.

The park district has said that the $5 million it is spending on maintaining buildings and grounds in neighborhood parks leaves it $9 million short to maintain a prudent schedule for renovating or replacing those assets.

A different meeting scheduled by the Park Board for Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Walker Art Center will present speakers from other large cities that have boosted park funding.

The Park Board next month will conclude a series of neighborhood meetings on the needs of the entire system and individual parks.

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