Parks plan update creates new “bridging facility”

Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Two people and a dog walking across a bridge.A regional park “bridging facility,” designed to attract people to the regional parks who have not visited before, is part of an update to the 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan. The Met Council approved the plan update in December.

The plan lays out the goals for the continued development of the regional parks and trails system, and the strategies that will help meet those goals.

Update includes expansion of parks and trails system

The updated plan includes 26 additions or expansions to the system, including:

  • Substantial additional acreage at four regional park facilities: Battle Creek Regional Park, Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, Gale Woods Special Recreation Feature, and Pine Point Regional Park.

  • Five new regional park facility search areas:

    • Coon Lake County Park in Anoka County

    • Rum River Regional Park in Anoka County, a connected series of three Rum River-based park facilities

    • Minnetonka/Minnehaha Creek, a linear, creek-based greenway park facility

    • Rogers/Corcoran in northwest Hennepin County

    • A special recreation feature “bridging facility” search area, spanning 11 cities in eastern Hennepin County

  • 17 regional trail search corridors

Two adults and two children working on puzzles inside a nature center.

Bridging facilities: bringing in people new to the parks

Bridging facilities are a type of special recreation feature meant to attract and introduce new outdoor recreation users to the regional parks and trails system. They are sited close to their target audience, which includes communities historically underserved in the regional parks.

These facilities are not designed for a one-sized-fits-all approach, but instead invite creativity and innovation. They seek to build on community strengths, interests, and establishing partnerships with the communities they serve. A goal is to provide progressive, nature-based experiences for people to become familiar and comfortable with spending time in the regional parks.

Bridging facilities may be located in an area not currently served by an existing regional park or trail, or nested within existing regional park facilities. They may also have a “mobile element,” to reach into communities historically underserved by the parks. And they may include programming embedded in a partner facility, such as a school or nonprofit organization.

Three Rivers Park District is proposing potential bridging facilities in 11 eastern Hennepin County communities.

Plan update refines policies and includes parks equity analysis

The updated parks policy plan also includes refinement of policies related to the criteria and process for making park boundary adjustments, clarification of park and trail master plan boundary adjustments, and the parks equity analysis requirement approved by the Council early in 2020.

New studies in the regional parks system

The work plan for Council parks staff in the next few years includes two major studies.

The first is a proposed Cultural Historical Study that will describe the historical inequities in the regional parks system that result in barriers to equitable use of the parks. This study will explore the potential of contextual land acknowledgments that recognize the Native American community’s role in the region’s history and their presence in the region today.

The second will explore expansion of regional parks classifications to include “regional water trail parks,” to provide paddling opportunities, camping, and more. This may be a sub-classification or an entirely new one.

Indicators to measure progress and accountability

The Council will also work with partners to develop a set of regional parks system indicators as a foundation for continuous improvement and public accountability to address key priorities. These include strengthening equitable usage, managing natural resources within the system, and contributing to climate resilience.

During the parks plan update process, Council parks staff engaged with a variety of stakeholders, including the regional park implementing agencies, park users, residents, organizations, and people not yet familiar with regional parks and trails. In total, the Council received comments from 180 participants.

Updated 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan

Posted In: Parks

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