Thanks to a dramatic increase in funding, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is expanding its rehabilitation program to address much-needed repairs in neighborhood parks throughout the city. The new, six-year rehabilitation program budget of $25 million is six times the previous budget, which allocated about $3.97 million over six years. On January 25, Park Board Commissioners were presented with information about the expanded program, including a criteria-based system for identifying and prioritizing projects.
The funding increase is part of the 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan (NPP20), a 2016 agreement between the MPRB and the City of Minneapolis. NPP20 ensures an additional $11 million in annual funding to the MPRB to revitalize neighborhood parks, from 2017 through 2036. Of those NPP20 funds, $3 million is dedicated to increased maintenance, with the remaining $8 million going to rehabilitation and capital investments such as playgrounds, pools, athletic fields and recreation centers.
Rehabilitation for park features — often called “assets” in official documents — involves major repairs and replacements that fall outside routine maintenance or a capital investment project. MPRB’s rehabilitation program spans ten categories of work and includes dozens of recreation center buildings; hundreds of playgrounds, athletic fields and sport courts; and thousands of amenities such as park lighting, drinking fountains, grills, and benches.
“Years of underfunding for 160 neighborhood parks led to deteriorating features and a backlog of replacement, repair and maintenance work,” says MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “In order to guide decisions about where and when to tackle this work, we developed a system to identify projects and prioritize them.”
The criteria-based system builds on ongoing efforts to inventory and assess the condition of all park features that require maintenance, repair or eventual replacement. That information is used to rank park features, and then a number of variables are considered in prioritizing rehabilitation projects. “These projects range widely in their scale and complexity,” says Miller. “So we look at factors like timing, cost estimates, racial and economic equity, and project efficiencies. We also factor in the possibility of storms or other unexpected damage that can shift priorities."
In February, MPRB will announce rehabilitation projects to increase accessibility at park sites and buildings, continuing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Throughout the year, plans for other projects, including roofs; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; and park lighting will be announced as they are finalized.
“MPRB staff are excited to deliver on this work and help create better experiences for park users,” says Miller. “While capital investment projects can take years of planning and construction, our expanded rehabilitation program allows us to make more improvements in more parks over a relatively short time period.”
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board