Two Minneapolis Park Board officers to resign

The resignation of the board’s president and vice president comes after scrutiny from community members of color.

Aaron Job

Two Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board officers announced their resignation Friday. The announcement follows criticism over racial inequity on the board from black community members last spring.

Board President Liz Wielinski and Vice President Scott Vreeland will step down at a board meeting next Wednesday, but said they plan to maintain their board seats, according to letters the pair sent out on Friday.

While Vreeland didn’t state a reason for his resignation in the letter, Wielinkski cited health concerns.

“Unfortunately, my position and the pressures involved have taken a heavy toll on my health,” Wielinski said.

Her decision to resign comes on the heels of scrutiny from black activists, led by Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds, who approached Wielinski during a park board meeting in May, voicing concerns about racial disparities in park staffing and facilities.

“We have come to you, in peace, time and time again, asking about the discriminatory practices of your Park Board. The fact is, it has been well-documented that you have treated African Americans and other people of color who work for the Park Board in a separate and unequal manner,” Levy-Pounds said at the May meeting. “We look around the table and every single one of you is white, how can you effectively represent the people of the city of Minneapolis when we’re not at the table?”

In a statement at a Park Board meeting, Wielinski responded to the incident.

“While the Park Board has done work to both better understand racial equity and move toward achieving racial equity over the past five years, it is apparent that there are people who continue to feel that we have not heard their voices,” she said

Minneapolis Park’s spokeswoman Dawn Sommers said the pair would help elect a new president and vice president at Wednesday’s meeting.