Spokesman-Recorder: Who's guarding the city's jewels?

«What do you think of when you think about parks? Children at play? Summer League teams locked in a little friendly competition? A stroll around the lakes? A family picnic?

Playfully scrawled beneath the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s (MPRB) website header are the words “Playing for Life,” with each letter a different color. This suggests that the stewardship of the city’s nearly 6,400 acres of parks and open greens paces is a light and fun affair in which cordial and selfless commissioners staunchly defend our urban parklands against threats from developers.

But the reality is different. A culture of backdoor wheeling and dealing now dominates the park board, increasingly at the expense of the parkland, waters, and open green space the board is entrusted to protect.

Private developers have recently set their sights on several properties owned by the public. Developers for Crown Hydro have been relentless in trying to turn St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River into a power generator; several board members with ties to DeLaSalle High School have been accused of subverting the pubic input process to help the Catholic school build an athletic facility on Nicollet Island, which is both a city and a regional park; there is a move to sell off the lot at 58th and Washburn; and there is a developer’s plan to expand the yacht club on south Lake Calhoun, a high traffic area used by walkers, skaters, bikers and others.

Private developers are present en masse at every park board meeting, lobbying to secure the six votes necessary to sell land owned by the city and maintained and cared for by the park board. … »

Read full article by Rashard Zanders at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.