Over the past year, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has met with neighborhood organizations and community members around the University of Minnesota area to gain feedback on a long-term proposal for University-area parks.
The Park Board’s 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan, which lays out the future for parks in Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, is seeking feedback through an online survey and community engagement sessions throughout July. The City is seeking input from the University by engaging student representatives and campus groups.
“I think it’s something new for the City… which is getting unprecedented amount of public input,” said Minneapolis District 1 Park Board Commissioner Chris Meyer, who represents the Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park and Como neighborhoods. “The new direction of the City is to get more public input.”
Meyer noted the plan has received nearly three times the amount of community feedback than similar projects in north and downtown Minneapolis.
“People on the east side of Minneapolis really love their parks,” he said.
Many of the proposed changes to University-area parks include adult-oriented features like rock walls, skate parks and additional walking paths as the area has a low number of families with children, Meyer said.
Last fall, members of the University of Minnesota’s Urban Studies Student Association met with Park Board employees to discuss potential park designs on a walking tour of Prospect Park.
“It seemed like a pretty natural connection to bring the two [groups] together,” said Ella Rasp, vice-chair of MUSSA.
In addition to students, the Park Board is specifically seeking input from people of color and renters, who have also historically been underrepresented in neighborhood planning, Meyer said.
“We’re very deliberately seeking input from people who haven’t been well represented in the past,” he said.
Due to the long-term nature of the project, the Park Board has to take into account changing demographics of the area, said Carrie Christensen, one of the plan’s project managers.
The neighborhoods surrounding the University are becoming increasingly dense and Minneapolis’ population as a whole is aging. But despite these changes, projecting what the University area will look like in 20 years isn’t difficult, Christensen said.
“One of the cool things about the student population is that while some students might only stick around for four years in the neighborhood, it is one of the most steady populations in some ways because there are always going to be new students coming into the neighborhood,” she said.