Park board seeking increased funding

Park board seeking increased funding

Benjamin Farniok

Karl Nordling brought his granddaughter to Van Cleve Park for the first time Monday, noting that the park has changed for the better since his kids were young and played there. The Minneapolis resident said he’s impressed with the park’s size and condition, despite its age.
 
But Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials disagree. They say the city’s parks have been deteriorating for decades, and a boost in funding to fix dilapidated facilities, like playgrounds and buildings, is necessary to keep areas updated. 
 
The board started reaching out to Minneapolis communities Tuesday to find support for the increased funding.
 
The board receives $5 million each year to fix broken park structures, but it is looking for $14 million annually to update and replace amenities, superintendent Jayne Miller said.
 
Without the extra funding, Miller said playgrounds, wading pools and buildings will be forced to shut down due to safety concerns.
 
“Buildings and facilities will look worse,” she said. “The conditions of the neighborhood parks will continue to deteriorate.”
 
Despite the park board’s efforts to gain support, some City Council members have been hesitant to back its undertaking.
 
Ward 8 Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said she and other members of the council agree parkse are valuable to Minneapolis residents, but members don’t yet have strong opinions on the request for more funding.
 
“They haven’t put an exact proposal before us, and they haven’t put a dollar amount in front of us,” she said. “I need to see their information.”
In a presentation to a City Council committee last week, park board representatives said the parks have built up a need of about $111 million in capital investments
over the past 15 years. They also said building maintenance only receives about 4,100 hours of upkeep annually, while they recommend 8,500.
 
Miller said the board has yet to make fundamental decisions for gathering the requested funding, like whether it will host a public vote or where it will get the money.
 
The board has considered proposing plans that use taxpayer money or repurpose existing funds to go toward fixing the parks.
 
Park board commissioners will finalize the details of how they will go about raising support by the end of the year, which will give them time to connect with residents and better assess the needs of the parks, Miller said.
 
Throughout the summer, the board will continue to host public meetings — such as the one on Tuesday in north Minneapolis — in various locations of the city to educate citizens about its proposals. 
 
A presentation specific to Van Cleve Park is set for August 13.  
 
Nordling said he noticed a difference in amenities at Van Cleve and other parks, adding that he’s in favor of more funding for the city’s recreational areas.
 
“Anything for the kids,” he said.