Advocacy Spotlight: New State Funding for St Paul Parks

Local park projects got big wins from the $2.5B in State Construction Funds.

Thanks to advocacy support from park fans and organizations, the bipartisan infrastructure bills approved by the Minnesota Legislature in the final hours of the legislative session dozens of local park projects. The legislation combines $1.5 billion in state borrowing and about $1 billion from the historic budget surplus.

The following is a partial list of funded projects, many of which will require additional fundraising or support from local, state, and federal sources before construction can begin.

  • Mississippi River Learning Center in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood: $8 million.
  • North End Community Center in St. Paul: $6 million.
  • Bruce Vento Regional Trail in Ramsey County: $5 million.
  • An inclusive playground at Victoria Park in St. Paul: $2.5 million.
  • Conway Community Rec Center in St. Paul: $2.5 million.

Additionally, our friends at Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi/Lower Phalen Creek Project’s received $2.5 million to complete the Wakan Tipi Center at Bruce Vento Park. Saint Paul projects will also benefit from the $16.6 million to our regional parks, receiving 64 million visits each year as part of the Metropolitan regional parks system.

While we had hoped for a greater increase in the state’s share of Maintenance and Operating funding for the Metropolitan regional parks system (which impacts such Saint Paul/Ramsey County gems as Battle Creek, Como, Cherokee, Harriet Island, and Como), there was a meaningful increase in funding this year with planned increases moving forward. Having the state pay its fair share of the cost to maintain these regional treasures – which are visited by many people from across the state and the wider region – is critical to relieving the burden on local taxpayers.

Finally, the legislature approved Saint Paul’s request to add a 1% sales tax increase to the November ballot. If approved by voters, this increase would create $1 billion for streets, roads, and park maintenance over the next twenty years.

Thank you to those friends of parks who answered our call for advocacy this session on these important parks bills!

Photo credit: Architect’s rendering of Wakan Tipi Center courtesy of Wakan Tipi Awanyankapi/Lower Phalen Creek Project