Parks update

What do you want to eat at Lake Harriet?

The citizens’ advisory committee tasked with determining the future of the Lake Harriet concession is seeking neighbors’ opinions.

A community meeting has been set for 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 30 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Sheridan Avenue. The committee is seeking information on what neighbors to the lake want from the concession — what kind of food should be served, etc.

For more on the committee’s work, go to lakeharrietcac.ning.com.

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Park Board starts budgeting for 2010

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has started the process for creating its 2010 budget with the assumption that more than 30 currently vacant positions will stay that way — and that with looming budget cuts, more jobs could stay empty.

Because of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s state budget-balancing efforts and the city’s expected-to-be-steep rise in pension obligations, Park Board staff has predicted a very difficult financial climate. One scenario staff already is looking at is what would happen if the parks don’t get an increase in property taxes. One option: Keeping the currently 32.5 vacant positions permanently empty and then eliminating 23 more positions. That would amount to a 12 percent decrease in the parks’ work force.

Discussions will occur throughout the summer and fall. Superintendent Jon Gurban is expected to present his proposed budget on Nov. 4.

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Regional parks visits way up from 2007

There was a more-than 15 percent increase in the number of visits to Minneapolis’ regional parks in 2008 over 2007. Of 38.5 million visits to the regional parks, 40 percent were to Minneapolis’ system, according to a 2008 use estimate of the Metropolitan Regional Parks System. The Chain of Lakes was No. 1, with 5.1 million visits.

Minneapolis’ visitors increase was almost double that of the regional parks system as a whole, which was 8.5 percent. About half of 2008 visits were made by Minneapolis residents, with 27 percent coming from within Hennepin County.

The study defined a visit as one person entering one park.