Parks update

Park Board seeks input on activity plans

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is gearing up to develop its first two activity plans, and it wants the public’s input.

The board’s comprehensive plan, which it adopted in 2007, asks that the board create activity plans that outline all the major needs for every type of major activity the parks system supports.

One of the first of those — dubbed the Bike, Walk & Roll Plan — will focus on programming and infrastructure guidelines for cycling, in-line skating, walking, mountain biking, hiking, running and bicycle motocross, or BMX, riding.

Six public meetings are scheduled throughout February. Each begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held:

• Feb. 9 at Lake Hiawatha Park, 2701 E. 44th St.

• Feb. 12 in the multipurpose room at Windom Northeast Park, 2251 Hayes St. NE.

• Feb. 17 in the Great Room at Loring Park, 1382 Willow St.

• Feb. 19 at Brackett Park, 2738 39th Ave. S.

• Feb. 23 at Lynnhurst Park, 1345 Minnehaha Parkway.

• Feb. 26 in the Fireplace Room of the Theodore Wirth Chalet, 1339 Theodore Wirth Parkway.

The board also is developing a Field Sports Plan, which will impact guidelines for such activities as football, kickball, lawn bowling, croquet and ultimate Frisbee. Public meetings for those will be held at 6:30 p.m. on:

• Feb. 5 at Martin Luther King Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S.

• Feb. 10 at Pearl Park, 414 E. Diamond Lake Road.

• Feb. 11 at Northeast Park, 1615 Pierce St. NE.

For more information on either of these activity plans, go to www.minneapolisparks.org.

Commissioner openly questions lobbyist pay

With the Park Board’s budget as tight as it is, Commissioner Walt Dziedzic called out one of the board’s three lobbyists, openly questioning her work during the Jan. 7 legislative committee meeting.

The Park Board contracts with two firms for its lobbying work, which essentially is spread among three people. One of those, Maryann Campo, received the brunt of Dziedzic’s grief, largely over her reporting.

Campo, Dziedzic said, doesn’t file weekly reports from the capitol, something done by the other two lobbyists, both of whom are from Rice, Michels and Walther LLP. Dziedzic said that in a time when money is tight, the Park Board should know exactly where it’s going. That’s more difficult without weekly reports, he said.

Other commissioners disagreed — it’s not in Campo’s contract to do write such reports, President Tom Nordyke said. It is in the Rice, Michels and Walther contract, he said.

Commissioner Jon Olson seemed in agreement, arguing it was unnecessary for the board to demand two reports.

"I think that’d be silly," Olson said.

But Dziedzic didn’t back down.

"I don’t know why the board is so afraid to ask one of our lobbyists to work for her money," he said.

The committee ended up voting to approve Campo’s annual contract, without any changes.

"If I thought I had the votes, I’d make a motion," Dziedzic said, before abstaining from the approval vote.

In officer elections, it’s status quo

Park Board commissioners started 2009 by establishing more of the same — same officers, anyway.

In a brief annual meeting on Jan. 2, the board unanimously reelected every 2008 officer for additional year-long terms. That means Commissioner Tom Nordyke remains as president, Commissioner Mary Merrill Anderson as vice president and so forth. Commissioners also will continue to serve on the same committees as last year.

Winter fun, indoors

It being the end of January, and one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory and all, you might be wondering what you’re doing up in Minnesota. Or not.

If you’re part of the group who loves the current weather conditions and also are a new parent, the Park Board offers "winter fun," four one-hour classes for four weeks in a row.

The sessions, available at both the Kenwood and Linden Hills recreation centers — heated facilities — are meant for children up to age 3. Each week focuses on a different season, starting with the whitest and ending with the most colorful.

The Kenwood classes will be from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27. The cost is $15.

The Linden Hills classes will be from 9:30–10:30 a.m. Feb. 23 and March 2, 9 and 16. That course costs $16.

Adults must accompany children at each class.

To register, go to www.reservemaster.com/minneapolisparks, or do it in person at the recreation centers.