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Welcome to the new Park Watch website.  We hope that you will find the new format easier to read and to use. To facilitate navigating the website, there is a search feature and an index of topics.

In addition to the current postings, the new website includes ALL the postings from the old website beginning with January 2004.  With ten years of postings, the Park Watch website  presents a valuable perspective on a critical period in the Park Board’s history.


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Commissioners unable to do their jobs?

This week at the meeting of Park Board Commissioners there will be a discussion item on the regular board agenda about of all things, constituent services.  This should be of interest to the public because they include in the discussion description some interesting things.

  1. Should they be able to hire staff to assist them with constituent services?                 No, why do they need more staff?  The commissioners are suppose to work with the Superintendent, the Deputy Superintendent and the 3 Assistant Superintendents to solve constituent issues.    Maybe if more of them had attended the orientations offered they would know where to go….

A) Trouble with something like lawn mowing, plowing or trash pick up….that would be the Assistant Superintendent for Environmental Services (Jeremy Barrick)

B) You have rude coach, unpleasant rec center staff, lack of field access…that would be the Assistant Superintendent for Recreation (Tyrize Cox)

C)  You aren’t sure when one of your parks is due new playground equipment or why the construction at your rec center is delayed… that would be the Assistant Superintendent for Planning (Michael Schroeder)

D) You want to know how much is spent on community engagement in your area, how to know if the folks running the concessions at Columbia Golf are paying their contracted fees to the MPRB, or if Juneteenth is going to happen or if they have defaulted on paying the MPRB … that would fall under the Deputy Superintendent (Jennifer Ringold) and finally

E) If it is a legal question or something you don’t feel falls into one of the categories above, contact the Interim Superintendent Mary Merrill.  She should be able to get people to pick up their phones.

2.   Should the commissioners have a budget to hold meetings with their constituents?  No, again this is part of community engagement that the park board already budgets for annually.  Problems at East Phillips with the needs of your Hispanic constituents and soccer.  Bring in the translators, print up some flyers in Spanish, partner with Waite House and invite other commissioners and senior staff to join you.  Want to meet constituents for a talk.  There is an office provided for all 9 of the PART TIME commissioners to share at the MPRB headquarters.  You can schedule a larger meeting room at the HQ with the customer service staff or my favorite meet at a local park, the staff can schedule you a room.  If all else fails coffee shop meetings put dollars back into the local community, but the MPRB and the taxpayers should NOT have to pay for your espresso.

3.  Other:  Having heard that some of the commissioners thought they would be getting their own offices and staff like at City Hall I wonder if any of them did the research as to what this job entails.   Did you pick up the phone and ask one of the outgoing commissioners?  Did you ask anyone at the Park Board?  Did you not feel that there would be some work you would have to do to earn your $12,440 per year?  You also can turn in mileage and parking of up to $200 a year and let’s not forget your access to health insurance at a really good rate, the VEBA the MPRB pays you to cover most of your deductible, and the $13,000 life insurance policy your family gets to collect if you die in office.  You also have to opportunity to put money into PERA (the public employee retirement system)  a lot better deal than a 401(K) as the state doesn’t get to be let off the hook if the system makes bad investments.

Pay attention to this discussion taxpayers!!!!

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Mourns the Loss of Former Commissioner Annie Young

It is with great sadness that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) learned of the passing of former Commissioner Annie Young.

Commissioner Young retired from the MPRB Board of Commissioners in December 2017, after serving as a Commissioner At Large since January 1990, making her one of the two longest-serving Commissioners in Board history.

“Annie’s passing is a huge loss to the Park Board and the City of Minneapolis,” said MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “Her commitment to our park system, to the environment and to programs and services for children and young people helped us to become the number one park system in the country that we are today. She will be deeply missed.”

During her 28-year tenure, Commissioner Young was a champion of the environment. Young’s efforts to promote and develop environmentally beneficial approaches to operations and recreation activities throughout the park system included championing solar energy initiatives and the Clean Water Partnership, as well as an Integrated Pest Management Plan that led to a 95% reduction in the use of chemicals and pesticides in parks during her time as a commissioner.

She also championed stewardship of the Mississippi River, and the parkland along it, including supporting restoration of the historic Stone Arch Bridge and Mill Ruins Park, which today are among the most-visited gems within the park system.

Young was also committed to programs and services for children and young people and was one of the visionaries who helped create the Teen Teamworks youth employment program.

In 2017, Commissioner Young was honored by resolutions from both the Minneapolis Park Board and the City of Minneapolis acknowledging her contributions, commitment, hard work, initiative and creativity in service.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has lowered flags on park properties to half-mast until January 31 to honor Commissioner Young.

Young’s family has asked for privacy and time to grieve their loss. Memorial service arrangements are pending.

Park Board to pass 2018 Budget at City Hall on December 6th

The 2018 Budget for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board goes to a final vote at City Hall on Wednesday December 7th.  The truth in taxation hearing is prior to the vote and takes place in council chambers starting at 6:05pm.  If you would like to comment sign up as you arrive with the City Clerk.  The recommended budget can be found here.

Committee of the Whole Agenda Posted

John Goodrich of MPRB announced yesterday that the Agenda for Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting is available.  See the link below.

The Agenda for the Monday January 23, 2017 MPRB Committee of the Whole Meeting is now online at:


John Goodrich
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
2117 West River Rd. N.
Minneapolis, MN  55411

Letter to Lileks: Height Restrictions and Lake Calhoun

The following letter was emailed on January 1, 2017 to James Lileks regarding his December 31st column in the Star Tribune.


Regarding your recent article “The Right Place to go Tall” regarding height around Lake Calhoun, it is not so simple.  And you are wrong about it being the neighbors who were responsible.  The passing of the Shoreland Height Ordinance was a citywide effort. I know because I was a board member of one of the two citizens’ groups that was instrumental in getting the ordinance passed.

I lived in Bryn Mawr but like many residents of Minneapolis, I felt a responsibility to preserve our natural resources from being exploited.  When a 24 story tower was proposed on the CBC’s property across from Lake Calhoun, the residents of Minneapolis revolted.  We did not want the profit motive converting Lake Calhoun into another Miami or Chicago with a ring of high rises dominating the lake.  We wanted to protect nature and all the wildlife that made Calhoun its home.

It took two years and two lawsuits to get the Shoreland Height Ordinance passed.  It was a huge accomplishment and I have two volumes of articles to prove it.  Barbara Flanagan was a supporter.  Linda Mack was a supporter.  Barbara Carlson was a supporter and, as a city council member, one of the reasons it was able to get the city’s support.

I am writing you because it is painful to see you so casually trivialize a major successful citizen effort.

Arlene Fried
A Founding Member of ELECT–Emergency Lakes Environmental Coalition Task Force

The original Shoreland Height Ordinance was passed on May 13, 1988 and published  in Finance and Commerce on that date. Don Fraser was Mayor and Alice Rainville was council president.

Heads-Up for the December 21, 2016 Park Board Meeting

5:00 P.M.  REGULAR BOARD MEETING.  The meeting will be held in the boardroom at Park Board headquarters, 2117 West River Road, just north of Broadway Pizza.  Visitors to Park Board meetings can find at the back of the meeting room the agenda book with all the printed materials for the meeting.  NOTE: The reason for this third November meeting is because the Park Board budget has to be approved by the Park Board commissioners prior to the next City Council meeting where the City approves the Park Board budget

5:30 P.M.  OPEN TIME.  Speakers can call 612-230-6400 before 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting to sign up or they can sign up at the Board meeting prior to the start of “Open Time”

Some agenda items of interest are:

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Park Board Once Again Seeks Developer for Northeast Riverfront

Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The following article by Eric Best was published in the December 1,
2016 issue of the Southwest Journal.

Park Board Once Again Seeks Developer for Northeast Riverfront

The board is making progress on a number of high-profile riverfront projects.

A high-profile piece of riverfront land is slated for development — again.

After a proposal to revitalize part of a former lumberyard in Northeast Minneapolis failed to pan out last year, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is once again looking for a new real estate developer for the site.

The Park Board is now seeking a real estate developer for the Scherer Bros. lumberyard site directly north of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge on the Mississippi River’s east bank. The board purchased the nearly 12-acre piece of land in 2010 for $7.7 million with a plan to one day rebuild the four-acre Hall’s Island and develop a new riverfront park.

To continue reading click on the link to the Southwest Journal

Developer Needed for Park Project on the River

The following article by Jim Buchta was published in the November 22, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.

Developer Needed for Park Project on the River


Wanted: A developer willing to help close a key gap along the Mississippi Riverfront.

That firm must be willing to work with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and several community groups to re-imagine a vacant 3.55-acre site along the river north of downtown.

To continue reading, click on the link to the Star Tribune

Mpls. park board seeks developer for land along the … – Star Tribune

Minneapolis Park Board’s 2017 Budget Focuses on Fiscal Responsibility, Service Delivery, and Implementation of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan

The following item was circulated by the MPRB.

Minneapolis Park Board’s 2017 Budget Focuses on Fiscal Responsibility, Service Delivery, and Implementation of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan

On Wednesday, December 7, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) adopted its 2017 budget for the park system, which serves more than 22 million visits annually. Continue reading