Maplewood asks for ideas on park funding

The City of Maplewood is searching for six residents for a new “park system plan task force.” The board will evaluate the city’s park system and advise the city on ways to keep park costs sustainable.

“We’re looking for people who are passionate about parks, and ultimately, recreation,” Maplewood Parks Manager Jim Taylor said. “We’re trying to figure out how to move forward with our park system.”

Maplewood is home to approximately 860 acres of park and open space. One problem the advisory team faces is funding park maintenance on an aging park infrastructure.

“We have a lot of parks that are 20-plus years old,” Taylor explained. “There’s about $5-7 million in infrastructure needs like buildings, fences and playground equipment, and we need to find ways to fund that.”

Parks and Recreation Director DuWayne Konewko explained that the city council hoped to look at parks more comprehensively, to find solutions based on the wants and needs of residents.

“We really want to take a look at how our residents utilize park and open spaces. Needs have changed, and we want to help make a roadmap for the future of our parks,” Konewko said.

“It’s a really resident-driven process,” Taylor said. “We want to go to city council with residents’ recommendations, not just staff’s.”

“We truly feel our parks contribute positively to our community. We want to create a product people will be proud of.”

The task force will include one resident from each of the north, east, south and west regions of Maplewood plus two “at-large” residents.

For 12-18 months starting in April, the board will meet every fourth Wednesday of the month.

Interested residents should call Parks Manager Jim Taylor at 651-249-2121 or go to www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=955. Interviews will be conducted in early March with official meetings beginning in late April.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7814.

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