Commissioners speak up about NRP
At the Nov. 7 Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) meeting, commissioners went around the table expressing their thoughts on the potential demise of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP).
President Jon Olson initiated the discussion, saying that he believes continuing the program is a good idea. Commissioner-at-large Annie Young — one of the neighborhood representatives who helped start the program in the 1980s — agreed.
She called making NRP a city-run program appalling. "This is about power control," she said. "The city and City Council want power back."
Commissioner Scott Vreeland added that he is also involved in neighborhood organizations and has seen the benefits of NRP firsthand. "I am totally supportive of strong neighborhood groups and decentralized democracy," he said. "It really empowers folks."
Vice President Tracy Nordstrom, who represents the northern part of the Lakes District, is worried that neighborhood spirit would diminish without NRP.
The board plans to send a letter to the city expressing their support for keeping the program.
Dealing with a tight budget
Several commissioners have expressed concern about the potential consequences of the 2008 Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board budget, which is expected to be very tight. Responding to their questions at a recent meeting, Park Board General Manager Don Siggelkow said that staff has identified certain occupied positions that may be eliminated based on board priorities. "We’re also considering a hiring freeze," he added.
One commissioner asked about the possibility of getting more local government aid from the state, but according to Park Board attorney Brian Rice, that probably won’t happen.
In terms of the state’s revenue, he said, "It’s more likely that things will get worse rather than better."
On Nov. 28, Superintendent Jon Gurban will present his 2008 budget recommendations to the Park Board.
Park Board holding land for community garden
Hennepin County is in the process of conveying the Sooline Community Garden at 2845 S. Garfield Ave. to the Park Board. The space has been tax-forfeit land for more than a decade. Once under the Park Board’s control, with the support of the Whittier Alliance, the land will remain a public community garden indefinitely.
The popular green space stretches alongside the Midtown Greenway with native plantings, stone seating and 100 public plots. Maintenance of the plots switches each year, and there’s typically a 100-person waiting list.
Controlled burns at Kenwood Park
To help manage invasive species in prairies, wetlands and shorelines, the Park Board is conducting controlled burns at four parks this fall, including the prairie at Kenwood Park. Staff originally planned to begin the burn in October, but weather conditions weren’t right. Neighbors will receive notification by mail when the burn schedules are finalized.
According to Park Board documents, autumn burns take place after hard freezes kill vegetation. Several conditions must also be present, including relative humidity between 25 and 60 percent; temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees; wind speeds between 3 and 15 miles per hour; less than 70 percent cloud coverage; and no air quality alerts from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The MPRB Environmental Operations Department has certified staff members — one of whom must be present for a burn — and permits from the Fire Department and Department of Natural Resources.
Trail work on West Minnehaha Parkway continues
The MPRB is continuing to rehabilitate pedestrian bridges and repave trails that connect to West Minnehaha Parkway, a project that began in 2000. According to a staff report, work includes installing new railings, repaving and replacing concrete curb ramps at trailheads. The bridge at Lynnhurst Park, in particular, requires a welded bridge beam connection design for the hand railing that differs from those on other bridges. The entire project costs $54,371, using regional park grants.
Preventing emerald ash borer
The Park Board is asking residents to buy and use firewood locally to help prevent the spread of emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle whose larvae feeds on the inner bark of ash trees, inhibiting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Trees may die a few years after contamination. Bringing in ash firewood from other areas increases the chance of spreading the beetles.
Best Buy volunteers, donates money to Parks Foundation
On Sept. 28, 525 volunteers from Best Buy came to the Lakes District to spend a day cleaning up the parks. They gardened, picked up litter, renovated picnic tables, and cleaned and decorated recreation centers at Martin Luther King, Armatage, Kenny, and Fuller parks. At the Nov. 7 meeting, the company presented the Minneapolis Foundation for Parks with a check for $19,000.
Contact Mary O’Regan at [email protected] or 436-5088.