The Minneapolis Park Board is working on a “Comprehensive Plan” that will shape
the direction of park developments, trails, trees & landscaping, rec
centers, and more for the next 13 years. That’s kind of a big deal.
So get your butt to a meeting where you can weigh in on the direction
Minneapolis parks are heading.
A lot has changed in how people use the parks, exercise, and socialize outside
since the last time the MPB took a step back to evaluate such behaviors. For
example, check out the following stats from the draft
Demographic shifts The number of households with
individuals living alone has increased from 27.6% in 1960 to 40% in 2000.
During the same time period, the number of households with children has
declined from 34.8 % to 25% of households. The city has also become more
diverse and home to an increasing number of foreign-born residents.
Recreation trends Adults, especially Baby Boomers,
are staying active longer. Young adults raised on youth athletics are seeking
to maintain active lifestyles. In addition, interest in non-traditional and
self-directed recreation is rising.
Health trends Nationally, research shows
obesity and related health concerns are rising along with health care costs.
Parks and recreation play an important role in supporting the active
lifestyles that can reduce health concerns and bolster preventative care.
Those are some fairly significant changes. How should the Minneapolis Park Board
adjust their priorities in order best serve Minneapolis residents and visitors?
In my opinion, the three changes listed above point toward a large increase in
trail use. People are participating in more individual sports like running,
walking, rollerblading, and biking, and joining less organized sports like
softball, hockey, or football. Soccer may be an exception to this based on it’s
increase popularity as a high school sport and the popularity of the sport among
new immigrants to Minneapolis. And Lacrosse is a growing sport at the high
The draft report recognizes this:
Interest in traditional sports, including
baseball, softball, golf, and football, is declining while interest in
non-traditional sports such as skateboarding, mountain biking, disc golf,
lacrosse, and cricket is increasing.
In my opinion, we need more trails, and probably a few less outdoor ice rinks.
As I look at the trail situation I see trails that are not being maintained on a
regular enough basis to be usable for some forms of recreation. For example,
West River Road’s trails should not have been allowed to fall into the disrepair
they’re in today (and will be in for at least 3 more years based on their
planned improvement schedule).
It’s good to see the improvements to the Above the Falls area of the river, with
newly build or improved parks, especially along the West side of the river. I’m
glad to see that there is a plan to deal with the disconnect along the East side
of the Mississippi River trail between the U of MN and St. Anthony Main. And the
Northeast part of the Grand Rounds is receiving attention as well:
That leaves a few significant holes, but greatly improves upon where we are
Trails also need to be rethought as they’re being used for a wider variety of
recreational activities. Walkers, Runners, recreational rollerbladers,
speedskating rollerbladers, recreational bikers, racing bikers, and roller
skiers don’t mix. There needs to be at least two unique trails for pedestrians
and wheeled travelers, but should probably be three with one for over 12 MPH and
one for under. Or, the wheel specific trails need to be significantly wider
(probably twice as wide as they are today) to make passing safer. The Midtown
Greenway is a good example of this.
What’s important to you in the parks? Do you think the MPB is on the right track here? Do you think they’ll pay attention to this report once it’s finalized?