The following article by Eric Best, dated July 15, 2016, was published in the Southwest Journal.
Park Board President, Vice President Resign
The two top elected officials of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board are leaving their leadership positions.
President Liz Wielinski and Vice President Scott Vreeland announced their resignations Friday from the board’s leadership positions. The two plan to resign from their posts at the board’s July 20 meeting when they will also elect successors.
Wielinski (District 1) and Vreeland (District 3) will remain as commissioners on the nine-member board.
In a letter to Superintendent Jayne Miller and fellow commissioners, Wielinski cited health concerns as her reason to leave the board’s helm.
“Unfortunately, my position and the pressures involved have taken a heavy toll on my health. This is most certainly not the way I hoped to wrap up my tenure as president of the board, but after consultation with my doctor and family members, and with consideration for the importance of the board for the parks in this city, I have decided this move is best at this juncture in my life,” she wrote.
As vice president, Vreeland would be her successor, but in a letter Friday declined the post and resigned from his leadership position.
“Although I would be honored to serve as President of this great organization, I would like to decline that opportunity,” he wrote.
Wielinski’s resignation comes at a time when the board, under her leadership, has received both praise and criticism. Earlier this year, the board secured a long-term funding plan for maintaining neighborhood parks, praised by her peers on the board and City Council as a historic agreement between the historically distant governing bodies. They’ve also maintained the honor of the country’s top park system.
But activists and community member have also criticized the board for inequitable investments into neighborhood parks and a lack of diversity in its leadership, among other concerns. Conversations tensed between the board and activists when Wielinski and Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, had a publicly heated exchange during a May park meeting.
Other sitting commissioners John Erwin and Jon Olson have previously led the board.
Commissioner Brad Bourn (District 6) thanked Wielinski and Vreeland for their leadership in a Facebook post.