Park Board Comprehensive Plan unveiled
On July 16, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board released a draft of its 2007–2020 Comprehensive Plan. The 50-page document represents the Board’s vision for the future of the park system.
It’s the result of two years of assessment, research and community outreach, which included asking 172,000 city residents for their input. Survey findings showed that most people were concerned about youth participation, fitness, safety, cleanliness and protecting the natural
The Comprehensive Plan includes four vision themes, which will guide future development, operations and maintenance of the parks:
• Urban forests, natural areas, and waters that endure and captivate;
• Recreation that inspires personal growth, healthy lifestyles and a sense of community;
• Dynamic parks that shape the city’s character and meet diverse community needs; and
• Safe places to play, celebrate, contemplate and
There are multiple goals listed under each theme, with strategies for completion, but the plan doesn’t include specific tactics for any of the board’s 182 properties.
On July 19, the board held an open house at Loring Park, giving residents the chance to review and question the document.
Parks Superintendent Jon Gurban compared the Comprehensive Plan to a kindergartener. “By the time they graduate, we’ll be refreshing that,” he laughed, adding “we’re going to take care of you.”
Some residents who attended the meeting expressed concern about the meaning behind certain phrases in the plan. Arlene Fried, co-founder of Minneapolis Park Watch, a watchdog group, wondered about the board’s pledge to “build amenities in current or projected growth areas.”
“[Amenities] would be a trigger word for me,” she said. “When I see that, I get more nervous.”
Harvey Ettinger, a representative from the East Isles Residents Association, also worried that amenities could translate to large developments. “I hope they will clarify that by the end of the process.”
The plan is in its third phase, which involves gathering comment cards and e-mails from residents. The board will hold a public planning committee meeting on Aug. 15 and approve the final draft in October. The last two stages — prioritization and implementation — will start in 2008.
“The bottom line is where’s the money?” asked Gurban, throwing out his arms. “You’re as good as your
Park Board reviews superintendent’s workplan
Part of Gurban’s three-year contract renewal includes following a workplan designed by the commissioners. At the July 11 board meeting, the commissioners reviewed a draft of the plan, which consists of ideas submitted by board members and ranked in order of priority.
Adherence to the Park Board mission tops the 12-item list, followed by completing the Comprehensive Plan, which is available for public comment at minneapolisparks.org until Aug. 3.
Among other things, Gurban will be expected to improve communications with the board, develop a sustainability plan and determine how to complete projects, such as the Riverfront parkway, Grand Rounds and the East Phillips Community Center.
Several commissioners worried that the list was too long and needed to be more thought-out.
“I think some of these things are a little unrealistic,” said Commissioner Bob Fine, who represents the Southwest area. “Is this what we want our superintendent really to do?”
Commissioner Carol A. Kummer, who represents the Powderhorn/Lake Nokomis area, wondered whether the workplan would carry over into the next year and how it would be addressed at Gurban’s annual review.
“A workplan is a workplan,” replied Annie Young, a citywide commissioner. “I don’t think ‘workplan’ means you have to complete everything in a year.”
She added that the board should approve that workplan soon, so Gurban can get started.
Commissioner Fine made a motion to open the plan up to the committee as a whole and narrow it down to items that they feel are achievable in one year. The motion failed.
Commissioner Tom Nordyke made a motion to change first words of the title of the list from “Board Priorities” to “Board Direction Toward a 2007–08 Workplan;” combine items eight and nine, which are both about environmental responsibility; and submit the list to the superintendent. Gurban will review the plan, makes changes as he sees fit and give it back to the board for final approval. The motion passed by a vote of 5–3 with 1 member absent.
What’s up with our trees?
The Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission presented its annual report to the Park Board on July 11. According to the presenter, former Commission Co-chair Peggy Booth, there are almost 1 million trees in Minneapolis, providing $750 million in benefits, such as energy savings and increased property values. The city has room for 16,000 more trees and hopes to grow two trees for every one lost. Sixty percent of Minneapolis’ existing trees need additional maintenance.
Last year, the city lost 3,350 trees to Dutch elm disease. “We are looking at a worse year than 2006,” said Booth. “We can’t afford to lose any more.”
Only 10 percent of the trees in the city are elms, but they’re two to three times bigger than other shade providers, producing greater benefits.
Booth mentioned a letter written to the Star Tribune in which a reader suggested removing tree stumps to decrease Dutch elm disease. This wouldn’t necessarily help, Booth explained, because stumps dry out quickly and don’t become habitats for the beetles and fungus that cause the disease. Stump removal for safety reasons and to make room for new trees, however, is important. The city currently has a backlog of 5,500 stumps waiting to be pulled.
Dutch elm disease isn’t the only threat to Minneapolis’ trees. The commission plans to provide educational information to the public about the emerald ash borer, a beetle that kills ash trees by eating their inner bark. They’ve set up “trap trees” around the city to detect the presence of borers.
Some of the commission’s goals for the coming year include creating a tree inventory, developing new arboreal standards, funding better aerial images and getting in the Park Board’s Comprehensive Plan.
The board recently released a statement urging residents to water their trees, as the Twin Cities has been experiencing a moderate drought since April. The board recommends leaving a garden hose on a tree at a slow rate for two hours, preferably at night. For more information, visit minneapolisparks.org.
Contact Mary O’Regan at email@example.com or 436-5088.