Hodges, Quincy Propose Plan for $300M in Park, Street Investments

The following article by Eric Best, dated March 25, 2016, was published in the Southwest Journal.

Hodges, Quincy Propose Plan for $300M in Park, Street Investments

Mayor Betsy Hodges and Council Member John Quincy unveiled Friday a $300 million capital investment program that they say would cover two-thirds of the funding gaps for the city’s neighborhood parks and streets.

The proposed plan would allocate an additional $10 million for neighborhood parks and $20 million for street repairs annually over the next ten years. It’s based on a roughly 1.4 percent increase to the city’s property tax levy each year over the next decade on top of the city’s forecasted average of 3.5 percent.

The proposal comes at a time when the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is looking to a referendum or a new plan with Council President Barb Johnson and Council Member Lisa Goodman for about $15 million needed each year to maintain nearly 160 neighborhood parks. The city’s Public Works department has also identified a $30 million need each year to maintain street infrastructure.

The proposed reinvestment plan could be renewed after the first decade.

“Earlier generations of City leaders built this great city on a vision that included great parks and safe streets,” Hodges said in a statement. “It is our duty to not allow their investments to crumble. We must reinvest in the Minneapolis we love.”

Quincy said in a statement that the plan’s 10-year lifespan would give the Park Board and City of Minneapolis time to prove the need for the investment.

“Fixing both park and street systems’ capital gap is a critical priority, and I’m happy to offer a solution,” Quincy (Ward 11) said. “In order to make sure we are making these commitments with our eyes wide open I expect we will have a full, transparent discussion about the long-term impacts during the budget process.”

Hodges has vetoed both the Park Board’s resolutions regarding ballot language for a referendum and, most recently, drafting a proposed ordinance that would guarantee approximately $11 million from various city resources for the board. The Park Board voted to override the first veto and is expected to do the same with the second veto during its April 6 meeting.

Goodman and Johnson introduced the proposal, which would require joint approvals from the Park Board and City Council, on March 16 and park commissioners approved a resolution later that day to begin drafting the ordinance.