Promote equity in the city’s parks

by Daily Editorial Board

This week, Minneapolis Superintendent Jayne Miller unveiled a list of city park amenities to upgrade over the next five years. When creating the list, the city considered the condition of park buildings and grounds. The findings will inform legislative funding decisions in the fall. 
However, a group of community leaders, activists and organizations has been advocating for the Parks and Recreation Board to allow communities — especially those with many minority or low-income residents — to dictate the materials on this list.
According to Park Board data, parks across all neighborhood income levels are in similar need of facilities funding. But the city determines those needs through standardized criteria, which activists argue often overlook factors such as bullet holes, cracked sidewalks and clogged drinking faucets.
Their advocacy has paid off. When evaluating neighborhoods for her list, Miller considered racial and income factors along with population density, number of children and safety levels.
We’re encouraged to see the Park Board consider race and income, whose disparities in Minnesota are so institutionalized that they often seem ignored. We also urge the Park Board, most of whose commissioners are white, to expand its strategies to seek involvement from communities of color. Those living in areas with high concentrations of poverty are better able to understand their own needs than an elected official who lives in another neighborhood.
This sentiment applies across all areas of local government. The Twin Cities area and the entire state should actively seek out community representation to remedy inequity.