Park System Master Plan 2020
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The City of Bloomington has 94 City parks and over 36 miles of off-road trails. The Park System contains 55 playgrounds, 31 park buildings, 16 picnic shelters and a variety of athletic fields and facilities. Many of these facilities were built in the 1960s and 70s. While upgrades and replacement have occurred through the years, maintenance and modernization to meet changing needs remains a persistent challenge.
The Park System also supports a comprehensive array of arts, recreation, leisure and cultural programs to a diverse population with a wide range of recreational needs. Recreation program opportunities include: adult athletic leagues, outdoor skating rinks, adaptive recreation and inclusion services, arts-in-the-parks, bandshell concert series, special events (Summer-Fete, Winter-Fete, Halloween party, egg hunt), River Rendezvous, golf, indoor figure skating/hockey, swimming, tennis, pickleball and summer playgrounds.
The City collaborates and partners with many organizations to provide other program opportunities including:
- Youth athletic programs through Bloomington Athletic Association, Bloomington Youth Soccer Club, and Bloomington Amateur Hockey Association;
- Galaxy Youth Center with Bloomington Public Schools
- YMCA/Tri-City Skate Park with the Southdale YMCA and the cities of Edina and Richfield
- Winter Fete program with Three Rivers Park District
- Old Town Hall Museum with Bloomington Historical Society
- Pond-Dakota House interpretive programs with Pond-Dakota Heritage Society
The purpose of the Park System Master Plan is to establish a clear, 20-year vision for the Bloomington park, trail, recreation, and open space systems. There are nearly 9,000 acres of parkland and open space in Bloomington, of which 3,882 acres are City-owned. Nearly 36% of the City’s 38.3 square miles is parkland or open space. Key areas of focus include (but are not limited to):
- Evaluate existing Park System features, amenities and services related to peer communities and accepted national standards to identify where changes are warranted;
- Develop a prioritization strategy to guide decision-making and investments in the Park System;
- Identify and prioritize Park System needs, desires and interests of the community today and the next 20 years from today based on anticipated demographic, economic and social changes and input from a recent Community Needs Assessment which will be provided by the City after Consultant selection. ;
- Establish a detailed implementation program for achieving the plan vision including identification of funding opportunities and identifying high-level cost estimates for identified high-priority actions;
- Identify best practices to ensure the Park System is managed and maintained in a sustainable and equitable manner; and
- Involve robust community and stakeholder (identified as part of the process) engagement.
What is a park system?
The City of Bloomington park system is the combination of all 97 parks comprising nearly 9,000 acres of land, as well as many miles of trails. The park system also includes facilities such as Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington Ice Garden, Dwan and Hyland Greens golf courses, Creekside Community Center, and Bloomington Family Aquatic Center.
What is a Park System Master Plan?
The Park System Master Plan is a roadmap for planning and completing park improvements, helping the City decide what parks to focus on first and ensure that changes and investments to a City park fit into the bigger picture of serving the needs of the community. The Park System Master Plan will use a summary of the community input received to create a 20-year vision for Bloomington's parks, trails, facilities and programs. This plan will guide City decisions for individual park improvement project and new programming in the future.
- Community Assessment: Summarizes demographic and recreation trends that will impact Bloomington as we plan for the future of our parks.
- Community Vision: Individual input collected online and in person is summarized into themes and a vision for the park system.
- System Analysis: Reviews the current level of service and programming in addition to comparing Bloomington to other similar cities locally and nationally.
- Implementation Plan: Applies the information from Steps 1 - 3 to recommend a prioritized list of park and trail improvements, operation and maintenance modifications, and programming enhancements.
What should I not expect from the Park System Master Plan?
Individual plans of all parks in Bloomington are not part of the System Plan. The Park System Master Plan will prioritize what parks should be improved and what types of park improvements the City should consider. Individual park improvements in the future will include a new community engagement process that builds on the information we are collecting now.
Why is a master plan needed?
Bloomington has 97 parks totaling almost 9,000 acres. Many of our parks were acquired in the 1960's and 1970's. Due to the age of our parks, changing community needs and trends in recreation, there will always be more needs and opportunities than funding. The new Park System Master Plan will help us decide which parks to focus on first. We will use the Plan and additional community input to determine the types of parks and park amenities needed to serve the population today and in the future.
Who is working on the plan?
The project team includes staff from the Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works Department, Park Maintenance Division, Planning Division, Community Outreach and Engagement Division, and a project consultant team led by Confluence that includes PROS Consulting and RSP Dreambox.
How can I contribute my ideas?
Public input is a critical part of the Park System Master Plan. Staff will be out in the parks and at community events (see calendar above) throughout the year collecting your ideas. We also have an online tool, project bloom!, that allows you to share your thoughts and ideas about the park system. On the interactive project bloom! website, you can click "see project map" and leave comments and also "cast your vote" to help us determine the highest priority issues and themes for the Park System Master Plan.
Where do my ideas go?
Your ideas will be grouped into themes of consistent needs and desires for parks and park experiences. The resulting themes go into the plan and help guide and prioritize park, trail, facility, and programming investments moving forward. In addition, your input will be saved for many yars to come as individual parks are assessed for improvements.
What does Bloomington have in its park system?
The Bloomington park system includes:
- 97 Parks: Includes neighborhood parks, community parks, natural resource and regional parks
- Facilities: Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington Family Aquatic Center, Bloomington Ice Garden, Creekside Community Center, Dwan Golf Course, Hyland Greens Golf and Learning Center
- Programming and special events for youth and adults
When will it be complete?
The Park System Master Plan will be completed in the first quarter of 2021.
How can I be kept up to date on the progress of the planning process?
This website (blm.mn/park-master-plan) will include a list of upcoming engagement events and other important information which will be updated as often as necessary to keep you informed. We will also utilize a variety of direct communication methods including the Bloomington Briefing, E-Subscribe emails, and social media to communicate updates regarding the Park System Master Plan.
What will the Park System Master Plan cost?
The consultant fees for the Plan itself are contracted at $149,000 and funded partly by the Parks and Recreation Department and partly by the Planning Division. The Park System Master Plan will have recommended individual park projects that will be funded through the Parks and Recreation Capital Fund, Charter Bonds, grants, and other sources that might be subsequently identified.
How does the City pay for park improvements?
The City pays for park improvements through a variety of funding sources listed below. As we continue through the Park System Master Plan process, we hope to continue to find additional funding opportunities.
- Parks and Recreation Capital Fund: When new development happens in Bloomington, a park dedication fee is required and deposited into that fund. Yearly deposits into this account are unpredictable and over the past several years have ranged from $0 to $500,000.
- Charter Bonds: Beginning in 2017, the City Council has issued Charter Bonds for specific park projects such as playground replacements and the wheelhouse at Dred Scott Playfields which is currently under construction. The payments for these bonds are paid for by City tax dollars.
- Regional Park Grants: For projects within the Regional Parks (primarily Normandale Lake and Bush Lake Beach), grants are issued through the Metropolitan Council for capital improvements.
- Other Grants: Subject to availability, these grants have funded park projects in the past such as the Hennepin County Youth Sports Grant.
- Franchise Fees: The City pays for trail maintenance and improvements of existing trails through franchise fees. New trails are funded through the same sources listed above for park improvements.