The following letter-to-the-editor was published in the September 17, 2016 issue of the Star Tribune.
TRAILHEAD PROJECT DOES NOT HARM DIVERSITY, NOR JOBS
In response to the Sept. 6 commentary (“Downhill skiing is a race to the bottom; caring for ski trails in Minneapolis isn’t”) by Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Member Brad Bourn, Nekima Levy-Pounds (president of Minneapolis NAACP), Cathy Jones (second vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP) and Corey Webster (Local 363 president):
Bourn unfortunately stirred last-minute controversy between the public, the Park Board and the Loppet Foundation last week. He has told his constituents, including me, that he “supported” the Trailhead project. His concern about union labor was addressed openly at the Park Board meeting on Aug. 3, as well as in many negotiations between the board and the Loppet Foundation in the past three years. Here are the facts. Six part-time winter employees will move elsewhere in the Park Board system with the same benefits and hours. The grooming and snowmaking will be done by trained professionals. Skiers at Wirth Park already know that the trails are “up to par” only on event days when the Loppet-trained teams are allowed to be in charge. Also, the Trailhead project will create up to 35 new jobs.
No one loses their job. In what form of math does that take away opportunity from communities of color, as the commentary argues, or take away middle-class jobs?
Bourn gave the wrong information to the NAACP, the union and the public at the last minute. Instead of celebration, the partnership starts with protests. Fortunately, the Trailhead will bring employment and vitality to Wirth Park and its immediate neighborhoods anyway, despite Bourn’s “support.”
Mary Kate McKelvey, Minneapolis
The writer coaches in the Loppet Foundation’s Trail Kids program.