All of the drama with our mayoral and city council races have left the candidates vying for a seat as a Park Board commissioner out of the spotlight. And while the fifth district (a portion of Howe and all of Hiawatha) is an uncontested race, the third district (part of Howe, and all of Cooper, Longfellow, and Seward) will see two names on the ballot – incumbent Scott Vreeland and newcomer Said Maye.
Park Board commissioners are elected every four years and are responsible for developing park policies and enacting ordinances that affect more than 6,740 acres of land and water, including parks, beaches, lakes, pools, and rec centers.
We’ve invited both Vreeland and Maye to participate in a Q&A discussing issues they see Minneapolis’ parks facing in the coming years and goals they would like to see the Board achieve. Incumbent Vreeland’s responses are below. We will publish Maye’s responses when we receive them.
Scott Vreeland Q&A
- What do you see as the top three issues that Minneapolis parks face in the coming years? Why?
- What program or project would you like to see implemented in Minneapolis Parks?
- What is a recent policy decision made by the Parks Board that you either agreed or disagreed with. Why?
- How do you believe the Park Board should work to address the impacts of climate change on our parks and natural spaces?
- What is one change you would like to see happen in either the parks or programs in the 3rd district?
1. What do you see as the top three issues that Minneapolis parks face in the coming years? Why?
If you look at “the three E’s” of Sustainability these are also are the interrelated issues that can also describe the issues for the Park system.
[Editor’s Note: The Three E’s of Sustainability are environmental protection and resource conservation, economic prosperity and continuity, and social well-being and equity.]
We are the stewards of 6,743 acres of land and water, 182 park properties,
200,000 boulevard trees, 17 lakes and ponds, and 1 amazing river.
How well we protect and preserve these great assets will be the legacy we leave for future generations. The ecological services of the park system have a great impact on our urban environment. I am a river advocate and student of park history. The restoration of land along the river is an important part of our legacy.
The parks are also an economic engine for this city because of the desirability of living, working, and playing in a city with a great park system. We are tax supported and we have to be very efficient and effective in fixing broken things, and replacing aging infrastructure. We have to balance the increase of costs to maintain our system with an understanding of those impacts on property taxes.
The Parks have an important part to play in social well being and equity.
Our parks are the commons and community gathering places for great events and programs where we meet and great each other and help build the social fabric of this city. Our parks and programs need to meet the needs of our diverse population and we need to better describe what equity means as we develop parks and programs.
2. What program or project would you like to see implemented in Minneapolis Parks?
I have been working on implementing a vegetative management plan for several years, basically a system-wide plan for what, where, and why we grow things and especially looking at those impacts on habitat and water quality. I am also a Watershed Commissioner and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and Park Board have jointly funded the implementation of this plan. For Seward and Longfellow this means support for a management plan for the river gorge. I think the best model for a system-wide plan is High Performance Landscape Guidelines 21st Century Parks for NYC.
3. What is a recent policy decision made by the Parks Board that you either agreed or disagreed with. Why?
The most significant policy decision was to adopt and implement a Comprehensive Plan that sets the future direction of the Park Board that included a very intensive community engagement process for the priorities of Minneapolis residents.
It makes a world of difference to have strategic initiatives with goals, objectives, outcomes, and evaluation. It also means that our actions are not solely driven by who has the most votes, but on a system-wide plan.
4. How do you believe the Park Board should work to address the impacts of climate change on our parks and natural spaces?
There are some specific things that we are doing, and things we need to do, to reduce our carbon footprint and our impacts on climate change. We need to promote resiliency in our landscapes including protecting and planting native species. We are also looking at species diversity in our tree plantings that includes consideration of climate change.
In the big picture, we need mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, including new invasives, and try to have a policy and strategy based on the best information we have from the U of M climate scientists and other high quality sources about some very complex and challenging landscape issues.
5. What is one change you would like to see happen in either the parks or programs in the Third district?
The parks have a very important role to play in the promotion of urban agriculture and food security. We are working on a draft Urban Ag. policy that will be presented to the Board in November. I am really pleased with the work so far that both balances competing uses for very precious park land and city vacant land and also promotes the opportunities for education, food preparation, and supports the city wide efforts of permaculture and Homegrown Minneapolis.