Star Trib Editorial: A well – Deserved award for Minneapolis parks

The following Star Tribune editorial was published in the June 9, 2013 issue:

A well-deserved award for Minneapolis parks

National honor highlights importance of urban open space.

Photo by Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

The longtime logo of the city of Minneapolis sports a small sailboat with the caption “Minneapolis — City of Lakes.” Perhaps now, the city’s signs and website should read “City of Lakes and Parks.”

Last week, the city received a well-deserved national honor for its extraordinary park system. The Trust for Public Land called Minneapolis and the Twin Cities the best big city for public parks. Coming in second, third and fourth were New York, Boston and Sacramento.

Minneapolis got high marks in several categories, including public investment, size, services and park access. Judges from the trust said that 94 percent of Minneapolis residents live within 10 minutes of a park, making green space readily available for all citizens to enjoy. That’s a huge asset in an urban setting; as American big cities grew, they became known as “concrete jungles’’ for a reason.

But as anyone who tries to park at popular parks on great summer days knows, it’s not only Minneapolis residents who enjoy the city’s wonderful open spaces. Lovely city parks are an incredible regional asset as well — folks come from all over the metro area to stroll, run or bike along scenic paths and greenways in the city. It lifts spirits and soothes souls to maintain that connection to nature while playing, swimming, exercising or simply stretching out on a blanket in the sun.

Kudos to some of the city’s founding fathers, who believed in maintaining beautiful expanses of nature for future generations and designed Minneapolis accordingly. And the city and park board deserve credit for building on and maintaining that legacy.

Minneapolis has just over 6,700 acres of land and water within its parks, including 197 playgrounds, gardens, golf courses and other facilities and 47 neighborhood rec centers. All that costs just more than $200 per resident in annual tax revenue — an excellent bargain for the hours of outdoor enjoyment the parks bring.

Congratulations to the city, the Park Board and citizens for supporting and maintaining our No. 1, nationally acclaimed, city park system.