Park board approves management plan

Southeast and northeast Minneapolis would benefit from the plan.

by Anna Ewart

Minneapolis is changing, and so are its parks.

Commissioners of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved a comprehensive park management plan Oct. 17.

This exhaustive plan, the first since 1965, will change the way parks interact with communities, according to a park board press release.

It will help the board manage resources and meet the needs of a changing city. The board will be able to provide services, such as new activities and paths, to communities.

According to a park board news release, the board’s commissioners approved the plan after a year of public meetings, focus groups and community leader workshops.

Jennifer Ringold, the citywide planner for the board, said the comprehensive plan will help the board respond to changing community needs.

The population of Minneapolis was more homogeneous when the current recreation center system was created during the 1960s, she said.

Since 1960, Minneapolis’ population has become more diverse and the number of homes with children has decreased, according to the plan.

“Today the demographics of the city are so much more diverse,” Ringold said. “The one-size-fits-all model is no longer effective.”

Making parks into community centers is one of the stated goals of the plan. The board plans to do this by tailoring its services to the demographics and needs of different communities.

Sheryl Luger said she participated in the community leader workshops that took place before the plan was approved.

She said she was impressed by the amount of public participation that went into the plan. At the public meetings, brochures were offered in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong.

Along with creating new activities for residents, the plan also proposes strategies for effective land use, maintaining structures and creating an environment that is safe and earth friendly.

The plan also identifies areas of the city in which the population is growing and areas that require more park services. The University is an area with population growth, but some neighborhoods near campus lack certain services.

Walt Dziedzic, board commissioner for the University area, said parks and paths are good citywide, but northeast and southeast Minneapolis are missing some things.

Dziedzic said the Grand Rounds is a system of paths that should go around the entire city. However, there is a three-mile gap in the northeast and southeast regions of the city.

“A big part of the comprehensive plan is to complete that portion of the system,” he said. “Northeast and southeast have not gotten their fair share in the past.”

Dziedzic also said the people who attended the public meeting in Van Cleve Park talked about environmental issues and activities.

Ringold said University students participated in focus groups about the plan. The students knew about parks near campus, but didn’t know much about the citywide park system.

She said students can go to recreation centers at parks near them to suggest activities or services they would like to have.