Study Guide and Links for Parks Research
League of Women Voters Minneapolis
During the last year a LWVMpls committee has begun to investigate issues relating to parks in Minneapolis, inspired partly by the new Parkland Dedication Ordinance, which requires developers to dedicate land or fees to support parks near their developments. Other new issues include ambitious efforts to renew and add to the parklands along the Mississippi River in the city, and the movement towards public/private models for developing new green spaces in the downtown area. These new developments are progressing at the same time that neighborhood and community parks continue to suffer from years of under-funding for capital improvements, so that these facilities are facing a funding crisis.
We see two important themes for continuing research and possible action:
- The funding crisis for neighborhood and community parks and recreation centers, most of which are not eligible for the kinds of state and regional funding that are available to the regional parks.
- New models for park development and support, including the Parkland Dedication Ordinance, increasing enterprise partnerships, and various public/private models like the proposed conservancy to raise funds for and manage new downtown green spaces. What is the role of the Park Board, if any, and how is the public interest being protected?
General and Background Information
Parks positions have not been revised since 2006, and some things have changed.
Here is the current Position in Brief:
“Support of adequate financing, sound administrative and planning procedures for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation System, and procedures to increase board responsiveness to the public.” (Suggested revision of the end would be “…to assure board transparency and responsiveness to the public.”)
For positions on parks (last updated in 2006), see pages 65-67 in this document:
Balancing Act II, major LWVMpls study of independent boards in Minneapolis, 2006:http://www.cura.umn.edu/sites/cura.advantagelabs.com/files/publications/P2006-2.pdf
Minneapolis City Charter. Park and Recreation Board.
Article VI of the Minneapolis City Charter, found online through the city web site, or direct at: http://tinyurl.com/l5yx4a5
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB)
There is too much information here to provide links to specific documents and pages. Follow these leads for some of the most useful information:
Find current projects and planning links under Park Care & Improvements
Find budget, board and history information and basic documents under About Us http://www.minneapolisparks.org/
Metropolitan Council – Parks
Supports the acquisition and development of regional parks and trails. Site includes maps and statistics, as well as the new 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan. http://www.metrocouncil.org/Parks.aspx
The Trust for Public Land
Works with local communities to create parks and protect land for public spaces; find links to statistics and research on parks across the country, as well as project reports. https://www.tpl.org/
The Trust for Public Land – Minnesota projects, including some in Minneapolis: https://www.tpl.org/our-work/parks-people/parks-people%E2%80%93minnesota
Green Line Parks and Commons. Download report entitled Greening the Green Line, a study of greening opportunities along the Green Line LRT, with a focus on Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS). Section 3 includes suggestions regarding the Minneapolis Parkland Dedication Ordinance. https://www.tpl.org/our-work/parks-for-people/green-line-parks-and-commons
See their new report on conservancies below under Downtown.
People for Parks
Independent, non-profit group that funds special projects and events that improve Minneapolis parks. http://www.peopleforparks.net/
Minneapolis Park Watch
Established in 2004, Park Watch keeps a close eye on MPRB and related issues, and the web site provides background information and extensive links to relevant articles and documents. http://mplsparkwatch.org/
Is the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) budget sustainable, and adequate to maintain our award-winning system into the future? Pressures for ongoing operating expenses compete with the need for funding for capital improvements. Almost all recreation centers were built before 1980, and they have suffered many years of deferred maintenance. Neighborhood park repairs and improvements need capital expenditures of $13 million annually in 2015-2020. In introducing the 2015 budget, Superintendent Jayne Miller said: “Despite significant budget reductions, efficiency improvements, and expansion of creative revenue generating opportunities, rising costs and increased usage continue to strain our ability to meet all of the demands placed on the park system.” Federal and state funds available through the Metropolitan Council for the regional parks are not available for neighborhood parks. Meetings will be held this summer to present the issues to the community and solicit suggestions; in the fall, the MPRB will decide whether to ask for a referendum, or seek other solutions. LWVMpls members should watch for the meeting schedule and attend these meetings.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Report on Status of Neighborhood Parks, October 2014
Parkland Dedication Ordinance
Minneapolis’ new Parkland Dedication Ordinance took effect on January 1, 2014. Its purpose is to assure that, as development occurs, there will be adequate parkland to meet the needs of residents and workers. The ordinance requires that new residential and commercial developments either (1) dedicate a reasonable amount of land to the MPRB for public use, (2) propose a privately owned park or plaza for public use, or (3) pay a fee to the Park Board in lieu of land dedication. Land dedications must be approved by both the city and the MPRB. When the fee is chosen, the MPRB will use the funds for land acquisition and development or for improvement of existing parkland within one-half mile of the development. It cannot be used for ongoing maintenance. Any developments with permits inplace before 1/1/14 are not covered—this includes the downtown Ryan projects in Downtown East.
Read the text of the ordinance here: http://tinyurl.com/Parkland-Dedication
FAQ about the ordinance: http://tinyurl.com/PDO-FAQ
Downtown Parks and Public Spaces
The number of residents in downtown is predicted to grow to 70,000 by 2025. The MPRB, the city, and the Downtown Council are all involved in planning for adequate park and recreation facilities for these residents, as well as pleasant open and green spaces for downtown workers and visitors. New developments will provide new land or funding through the Parkland Dedication Ordinance, and downtown businesses are also looking at ways to add privately owned public spaces (POPS). The two-block space just west of the new Vikings stadium, currently called Downtown East Commons, is particularly complex. Special agreements dedicate use of the space to the Vikings and other large events for many days of the year, but at other times it will be a public space; design plans are currently being reviewed.
This 5-page document (undated, 2014?) for a description of how the two official downtown master plans (below), city and MPRB, are working together:
Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) Plan Downtown Public Realm Framework Plan. A guiding policy document for the management of the pedestrian experience in key areas of the city, focused on guiding the enhancement of priority streets and urban spaces. A companion plan to the MPRB Downtown Service Area Master Plan. http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/lrp/WCMS1P-134268
Downtown Minneapolis Park Space Initiative, 2011 http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/projects/cped_dt_mpls_park_space_initiative
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Downtown Service Area Master Plan
This plan will focus on current and future parks and recreation activities. https://www.minneapolisparks.org/park_care__improvements/park_projects/current_projects/downtown_service_area_master_plan/
Minneapolis Downtown Council, 2025 Plan
Summary of 10 goals for downtown, which include green corridors and riverfront parks; link to Intersections: Downtown 2025 Plan. http://www.downtownmpls.com/page/show/423275-2025-plan
Downtown East Commons
View presentations from public meetings about possible design of the two-block public space; link to articles in the press; sign up for email updates. http://www.downtowneastcommonsmpls.com/
The Trust for Public Land
Downtown Parks: A report on the users, uses and features of successful downtown parks for the Minneapolis Downtown Greening Initiative, 2007. What is needed for a downtown signature park. http://www.tpl.org/sites/default/files/cloud.tpl.org/pubs/ccpe-downtown-parks-minneapolis-study.pdf
Public Spaces/Private Money: The Triumphs and Pitfalls of Urban Park Conservancies, 2015. Looks at 41 city park conservancies. The report’s conclusions about what makes a conservancy successful will be useful as Minneapolis contemplates a downtown conservancy. http://www.tpl.org/public-spacesprivate-money
Both the Central Riverfront and the Above the Falls segments of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis are subjects of a series of overlapping and concurrent planning initiatives. A draft of the master plan for the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park was unveiled last December. The area includes important parkland assets on both sides of the river downtown, including the proposed Water Works development on the former Fuji Ya property. The Above the Falls segment includes the 48-acre Upper Harbor Terminal area on the west bank, and the undeveloped Scherer Brothers site, almost 14 acres, on the east bank. Both the Park Board and the city have master plans for Above the Falls. Implementing these exciting but complex plans will require collaboration between the MPRB and the city, along with private property owners, government agencies, other funding sources, community organizations, and citizens. For web links and updates from MPRB, go to the main site (above), choose Park Care & Improvement, then Current Projects for Above the Falls and Central Riverfront.
Initiative begun by the MPRB in 2010 to create and implement a 20-year vision for riverfront parks on the Upper Mississippi River, sometimes called Above the Falls. RiverFirst is the outcome of two earlier Minneapolis riverfront design efforts. The RiverFirst Initiative is an interagency partnership of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Parks Foundation – together with community and agency participants and the public – to realize the RiverFirst Vision and support the implementation of RiverFirst Projects. http://riverfirst.com/
Minneapolis Community Planning & Economic Development: Upper Harbor Terminal Redevelopment
Planning for the 50-acre parcel of land owned by the City of Minneapolis along the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis. Includes city plans and links to related plans and publications. http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/projects/UHT_Redevelopment
Minneapolis Parks Foundation
Support and fundraising non-profit organization, currently focusing mainly on riverfront development. Private-sector leader of the RiverFirst Initiative and Water Works. Sponsors Next Generation of Parks™ lecture series. http://mplsparksfoundation.org/
Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership
Non-profit corporation established by the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Minnesota Legislature in 2008 to “to facilitate and support coordinated revitalization of the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis.” Web site includes links to statistics and news. http://minneapolisriverfrontpartnership.org/
National Park Service, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA)
A partner park where the National Park Service works with other agencies to preserve, enhance and make special places available to visitors by working with other agencies. The Park Service owns only 35 of the approximately 54,000 acres within the MNRRA boundary, which covers 72 miles of the river above and below the Twin Cities metropolitan area. All the rest is owned and managed by partner agencies. http://www.nps.gov/miss/index.htm
Other Information Sources
Local newspapers and online media cover parks issues regularly – too many to include specific links here. Many reporters assemble data and background information that can be helpful in understanding the issues. Try searching on individual media sites or using Google or other search engines, using a variety of search terms. There is a great deal of useful information out there.