Park Board passes 20-year neighborhood park funding plan

The Park Board seeks to close a growing funding gap in maintaining the city's 157 neighborhood parks, such as Bethune Park. Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Park commissioners have moved forward with a 20-year funding plan to maintain the city’s neighborhood parks. 

Commissioners of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board unanimously passed the plan, via an ordinance, that would provide an additional $11 million annually to revitalize the 157 neighborhood parks in Minneapolis, many of which face disrepair. The plan, a joint effort with the City Council and Mayor Betsy Hodges, is an alternative to a fall referendum that the Park Board had been working toward in recent months. 

The roughly $800 million plan also includes $22 million in new money for street projects annually. The City Council passed its version of the plan, dubbed the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan, in April.

“This is an extraordinary moment in Minneapolis park history. I am excited to see Minneapolis’ neighborhood parks revitalized to serve a new, more diverse generation of park users,” said Park Board President Liz Wielinski in a statement.

The plan addresses a projected $15 million annual funding gap for capital needs in neighborhood parks and an estimated $30 million annual funding gap for street repairs and reconstruction projects. The proposal taps a variety of funding sources, but most heavily relies on property taxes, which will fund 82 percent of the plan.

Commissioners will take up another ordinance in June to define racial equity criteria to spend the additional investment. The criteria assign point values to a park’s various characteristics, including if it’s in a racially concentrated area of poverty or the age of its assets, to allocate funding. 

“These ordinances will be significantly influential for the Park Board, the City and residents of Minneapolis,” said Superintendent Jayne Miller. “We’re proud that this critical plan to revitalize Minneapolis’ neighborhood parks will be implemented using a criteria-based system to ensure investments address racial and economic equity.”