Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passes ordinance to address racial and economic equity in new neighborhood park projects

At its July 6, 2016 meeting, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners unanimously approved Resolution 2016-223, which created a new ordinance that ensures specific, data-driven, equity-based criteria will be used to prioritize capital investment and large rehabilitation projects in neighborhood parks.

The enactment of a new system for prioritizing neighborhood park projects was developed in tandem with the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan ordinance, a historic agreement between the MPRB and City of Minneapolis that will provide an additional $11 million in annual funding to revitalize neighborhood parks in Minneapolis. 

“The passage of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan gave us a huge opportunity to be a leader in addressing racial and economic equity in Minneapolis,” said MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “It’s our moral obligation to ensure these new park investments are made equitably, and this ordinance gives us a data-driven, impartial tool to make sure that happens.”

The criteria fall in two categories: community characteristics and park characteristics. Community characteristics include neighborhood demographic data such as identified racially concentrated areas of poverty, population density, youth population and crime statistics. Park characteristics include park asset data like asset condition, asset lifespan and proportionality of investment since 2000 relative to the total value of park assets.

Please read the Criteria Based System for MPRB Capital and Rehabilitation Project Scheduling for a detailed explanation of each criterion. The criteria were developed with feedback from representatives of local organizations that focus on racial equity.

A total of 106 neighborhood park properties were scored using the “Criteria Matrix.” Please read the Criteria Matrix for MPRB Capital and Rehabilitation for Neighborhood Park Projects to see how each neighborhood park was rated.

Finally, the Proposed Expanded MPRB CIP for Neighborhood Parks outlines MPRB staff recommendations for rehabilitation and capital projects in the first five years of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan (2017-2021). Projects that were already approved as part of the MPRB’s previous five-year capital improvement plan will be honored and move forward as scheduled.

Proposed funding is specific to each park and would remain allocated to that park, not disappear, if the community determines a different site improvement other than the improvement MPRB staff recommends in the Proposed Expanded MPRB CIP for Neighborhood Parks. As with all of its current park projects, community engagement and input will be critical when making future park improvements.

“We’re incredibly appreciative of all of the work MPRB staff put into developing this data-based tool and our ongoing dialogue with community members and advocacy groups in our efforts to advance equity in Minneapolis,” said MPRB President Liz Wielinski. “This ordinance ensures the coming wave of investments throughout Minneapolis’ much-used neighborhood parks will be done equitably, so that people across all parts of the city can enjoy parks designed to serve the diverse communities that use them.”

The full text of the new ordinance can be read in Resolution 2016-223 and will become a new chapter (Chapter 17) in the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Code of Ordinances. The full ordinance title is: “CRITERIA BASED SYSTEM FOR CAPITAL AND REHABILITATION NEIGHBORHOOD PARK PROJECT SCHEDULING (IN CONJUNCTION WITH CHAPTER 16 – 20 YEAR NEIGHBORHOOD PARK PLAN)”

Chapter 16 of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Code of Ordinances, “20-YEAR NEIGHORHOOD PARK PLAN,” was adopted on May 18, 2016. Please visit www.minneapolisparks.org/racial_equity or more information on the MPRB’s ongoing racial equity initiatives.