Minneapolis Park Board to consider referendum to close funding gap for neighborhood parks

After a year of public information meetings about the current condition and service level of the 157 neighborhood parks in the city, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jayne Miller presented commissioners with recommendations for the Closing the Gap: Investing in Neighborhood Parks initiative.

Miller shared proposed ballot language for a November 2016 referendum, an implementation plan for a referendum, and elements of an agreement with the Minneapolis City Council to address sustained current funding, all intended to provide a long term strategy to address the funding gap for annual maintenance and care as well as capital investments for Minneapolis neighborhood parks.

The Board is expected to take action on the Superintendent’s proposals on January 20, and the Superintendent will provide specifics of the 2018-2022 implementation plan in April.

The Superintendent’s presentation materials, including the Closing the Gap PowerPoint presentation and a one page overview of proposed programs and initiatives during the first five years, is available at www.minneapolisparks.org/closingthegap in the key documents section. 


Closing the Gap: Investing in Neighborhood Parks (Closing the Gap) is an initiative of the Superintendent and Commissioners that shared information with Minneapolis residents and partners about the current condition and service level of neighborhood parks.  Closing the Gap looked at the impacts of the age of the system and deferred maintenance – or delayed regular upkeep past the point of repair – has had on the 157 neighborhood parks in Minneapolis.

The Closing the Gap initiative gathered information from Minneapolis residents and partners about investment priorities for replacement, operating and maintenance of existing neighborhood park assets. A spectrum of community engagement methods, information sharing, and communications tools were used to share and collect information for the Closing the Gap imitative since May of this year. 

Minneapolis’ neighborhood parks have the greatest number of physical assets that require greater resources to operate, maintain and replace. To sustain the current level of physical assets in the park system the MPRB needs $14.3 million plus inflation each year to meet capital investment needs. The MPRB currently has $4-5 million per year to invest in these assets. The current annual capital gap is $9.3 million plus inflation. The neighborhood parks also require annual investments to operate them to industry standards for activities such as mowing, building maintenance, tree pruning, roof repairs, and path repairs. The current operational gap is a minimum of $3 million plus inflation per year.

 On October 21, 2015, the Superintendent provided the Board of Commissioners the Investing in Neighborhood Parks – Final Report, Public and Private Funding Strategies for Neighborhood Parks Report and Feasibility Report from the Trust for Public Land.

Following the October 21 presentation and discussion of the reports and direction provided by the Board of Commissioners, the Superintendent has been working on possible referendum to address the funding challenges for neighborhood parks for consideration. 

Closing the Gap: Investing in our Neighborhood Parks

An abundance of information on the state of Minneapolis’ neighborhood parks is available at www.minneapolisparks.org/closingthegap:

• “Park Profiles” detailing where investments have been made and where funding gaps are in every neighborhood park in the city. (Under “Background” tab)

• Two 2015 budget fact sheets showing where MPRB’s budget comes from [PDF] and what it supports [PDF].

• A neighborhood parks fact sheet [PDF] explaining how the funding gap was created and what MPRB is doing already to help close it.

• An FAQ [PDF] with concise answers to 27 questions commonly asked during 2015 Closing the Gap meetings.

To stay informed on Closing the Gap please visit www.minneapolisparks.org/closingthegap and sign up for email updates.