Council awards grants to acquire property for regional parks and trails

Date: Friday, August 16, 2019

Among the priorities of the Metropolitan Council is a commitment to expand the regional system of parks and trails as the metro area population grows. The abundance of places to enjoy the outdoors and recreate contributes to livability in the Twin Cities and our health and well-being.

A field of yellow flowers, with trees in the background.On Aug. 14, the Council approved four grants, called “Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund Grants,” to expand the region’s network of 64 regional parks, park reserves, and special recreation features, and nearly 400 miles of regional trails.

Many of the region’s most well-known and iconic sites are part of the regional parks system: the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Bunker Hills Regional Park, Elm Creek Park Reserve, and Lake Elmo Park Reserve.

While the Council helps plan and fund regional parks and trails, the 10 park implementing agencies do the heavy lifting of owning and operating regional parks.

Grants benefit parks across the region

To date in 2019, the Council has awarded nearly $8 million in acquisition grants, including this most recent $2 million allocation of grant monies:

  • Up to $255,266 to the Three Rivers Park District to acquire just over an acre on Sylvan Lake Road on the west side of the City of Rogers for Crow-Hassan Park Reserve. The reserve is located on the Crow River and offers restored prairie, miles of trail, wildlife, and wilderness. Park reserves are more expansive than regional parks, with a minimum size of 1,000 acres.

  • Up to $509,869 to the Three Rivers Park District to acquire an easement from the New City Covenant Church in Edina for the Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail. The trail meanders alongside the creek as it flows through the cities of Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield, and Bloomington.

  • Up to $427,597 to Dakota County to acquire a 0.55-acre easement across from the former Blockbuster Video store on Robert Street South in West Saint St. Paul for the River-to-River Greenway Regional Trail. The trail is an eight-mile, primarily east-west regional trail corridor that connects the Mississippi River at Lilydale to the Mississippi River at South St. Paul. The easement will help make a critical connection to the trail.

  • Up to $813,048 to Washington County to acquire the 75.4-acre Nelson Property in the City of Marine on St. Croix for the Big Marine Park Reserve. The property includes natural resources consisting of prairie, hardwoods, pines, open water, and wetlands.

Renowned system of regional parks and trails takes collaboration

Water with trees bordering.Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund grants provide resources to purchase property and easements using the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The Council also contributes, using proceeds from the sale of bonds. Park operating agencies contribute a local match.

“Council policy is explicit about the type of investments we’ll make with these funds,” said Emmett Mullin, Regional Parks and Natural Resources Manager. “These grants are intended to preserve properties that offer access to natural resources and water features, provide geographic balance and trail connections, and ensure that we help meet the needs and plans of the 10 regional park agencies.

“These investments supplement other recreational opportunities that are provided at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as spaces that are privately owned,” said Mullin.

2019 park acquisition grants

The Council also awarded these Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund grants:

Three Rivers Park District Baker-Carver Regional Trail $      474,355
Three Rivers Park District West Mississippi River Regional Trail $      325,839
Washington County Grey Cloud Island Regional Park $      435,083
Washington County Big Marine Park Reserve $      451,923
Three Rivers Park District Kingswood Special Recreation Feature $    1,650,000
City of Saint Paul Phalen Regional Park $      217,065
City of Saint Paul Robert Piram Regional Trail $      134,303
Washington County Grey Cloud Island Regional Park $      393,543
Carver County Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail $    1,700,000
    $    5,782,115

The regional parks system drew nearly 60 million visits in 2018, the most visits of any year on record.

Posted In: Parks

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