The Minneapolis Park Board is holding a series of public meetings about what if any improvements voters want -- and would be willing to pay for.
The sessions ask residents about the programming at the 47 recreation centers, as well as the suitability of outdoor park areas ranging from playing fields to wading pools.
A key item will be a park-specific look at the maintenance of neighborhood parks..
The park system has calculated that it needs an additional $9 million over the $5 million it spends each year to keep up on park maintenance. The added spending represents the calculated cost to address maintenance that hasn’t gotten done since 2000 to replace buildings and renovate grounds on a timely basis as key components reach their design life.
But before the Park Board decides whether to ask voters for more money through a referendum, it has decided to evaluate whether buildings and grounds are configured to meet community needs.
“These facilities were all built in the 1970s,” said Park Board President Liz Wielinski. “We had a different community then.” For example, she said, soccer is now much more widespread than when she was growing up. And the traditional Hmong game of hurling tops known as tuj lub is emerging in St. Paul.
That may require different outdoor playing fields, and citizen planning is already going on in the downtown and south-central districts about which parks get which facilities. All parks would get playground equipment, for example, but a more specialized facility like a skateboard park might have only one site in a district. Similarly, spaces inside park buildings may not reflect current use of the building.
Each presentation at meetings will include information about where the park’s facilities are in their replacement cycles. On a city-wide basis, the biggest backlog by 2020 is projected to be in renovating natural-turf athletic fields at nearly $49 million, and recreation center buildings at $29.7 million.
But proportionately, some types of facilities are better maintained that others. For example, little to no money has been put into field lighting needs, basketball courts or pedestrian bridges, while skate parks, wading pools and playgrounds have gotten more of their needs addressed.
Each upcoming meeting will cover from one to four nearby parks. A complete schedule is available online at: http://tinyurl.com/nzt4nhc
Here are the June meetings, which all begin at 6 p.m.:
Tuesday: Folwell Recreation Center. Parks discussed: Creekview, Webber, Folwell
June 22: Harrison Recreation Center. Parks discussed: Bethune, Harrison
June 23: Linden Hills Park. Parks discussed: Linden Hills, Pershing Field
June 25: Kenwood Community Center. Park discussed: Kenwood
(Photo above: Park maintenance is hardly a new topic. Here, then-Superintendent Charles Doell points out needed park roof repairs to a maintenance supervisor in 1957.)