Park board approves student-focused Marcy Park overhaul

Renovations to the park would include a basketball court, a small dog park and areas for bouldering and hammocks.

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Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The redevelopment plan for Marcy Park aims to accommodate the needs and wants of college-aged residents. Marcy-Holmes has one of the highest percentages of residents ranging from 18 to 25 years old in Minneapolis.

Samantha Hendrickson

University of Minnesota students living in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood will start to see significant changes to Marcy Park after the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) approved major renovations Wednesday.

The overhaul is a part of the “East of the River Park Master Plan,” which seeks to renovate and add parks in Minneapolis’ northeast and southeast neighborhoods over the next 20 years. The proposed changes to Marcy Park include a new basketball court, a small dog park and areas for bouldering and setting up hammocks.

“This project would provide new amenities that would serve the population around [Marcy- Holmes] better,” said MPRB District 1 Commissioner Chris Meyer.

Meyer also said the park board received plenty of feedback from University students after sending out surveys about the park changes and that the planned changes are primarily with students in mind.

Marcy-Holmes has one of the highest percentages of residents ranging from 18 to 25 years old in Minneapolis. While students attending the nearby University are usually short-term renters, these demographics rarely see much change from year to year.

However, one of Marcy Park’s defining features is its playground, even though Marcy-Holmes has one of the lowest percentages of families with small children in northeast and southeast Minneapolis.

“It’s really important to have more amenities for college adults rather than toddlers,” Meyer said.

Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association (MHNA), said he hopes the remodeling of the park will encourage more unity between the western and eastern sides of the neighborhood.

“There’s kind of a strong division with I-35W smack in the middle of the neighborhood, and we’re hoping that this brings the two sides closer together,” Lautenschlager said.

Lautenschlager said that the renovations have the blessing of the MHNA.

Bill Huntzicker, a Dinkytown historian and member of MHNA, was unhappy with the changes to what he said the park was originally designed for.

“The park was designed for relaxation, green space and small children. Please preserve these goals as much as possible,” Huntzicker said in an email to the park board. In the note, he recalled seeing children playing in the park during the winter and local daycares near the park.

While many of the renovations will happen over the 20 years outlined in the masterplan, Meyer said the first project on the agenda is the basketball court.