Board Votes Erwin To Presidency; Young Elected Vice President

The following article by Cristof Traudes appeared in the January 11, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:

BOARD VOTES ERWIN TO PRESIDENCY; YOUNG ELECTED VICE PRESIDENT

The new Minneapolis Park and Recreation board has been sworn in, and its leaders are two familiar faces: Longtime Commissioner Annie Young is the new board’s vice president, and returning Commissioner John Erwin is its president.

At a brief meeting Jan. 4, the Park Board also finalized which commissioners will serve on what committees. Chairpersons, as appointed by Erwin, are returning commissioners Scott Vreeland (Administration and Finance Committee), Jon Olson (Operations and Environment), Carol Kummer (Legislation and Intergovernmental) and Young (Planning), along with new commissioners Liz Wielinski (Recreation) and Brad Bourn (Standards and Conduct).

The board’s first full meeting was scheduled for Jan. 6, after this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press. But to get a sense of everyone’s priorities, most of the group — sans returning Commissioner Bob Fine — met briefly in December for an informal session. Each commissioner was asked to bring forward three ideas for what they’d like to accomplish in the short term. Here’s an overview of their responses:

— Erwin listed stabilizing the Park Board’s tax levy in relation to the city’s, asserting the Park Board’s independence and increasing grant-writing for the system.

— Young said she wanted to tackle whether to open the search for a new superintendent, look at changing the process for setting the parks’ tax levy and focus on preparations for the National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Exposition, which Minneapolis is hosting in October.

— Wielinski was more specific, listing lowering water park costs, getting air conditioning in Luxton Park and moving ahead with the Father Hennepin Bluffs citizens’ advisory committee.

— Olson said he wanted to boost youth programs and look at getting the Park Board off the grid.

— Vreeland focused on developing an ordinance to make clearer the use and goals of citizens’ advisory committees, forging ahead with the parks’ sustainability plan and continuing to implement the system’s comprehensive plan.

— New Commissioner Anita Tabb wanted to increase outreach, work on the relationship between the City Council and the Park Board and take another look at the parks’ budget and priorities.

— Kummer said she wanted to deal with the tangles of the city’s storm water ordinance, continue work on the Lower Glen and enhance the Park Board’s enterprise operations.

— Bourn said his priorities were stabilizin g the council-Park Board relationship, formalizing the way the parks system receives donations and improving the use of citizens’ advisory committees.