We graciously appreciate the trust our supporters place in us. We work hard to speak on behalf of parks, trails, and open space and to educate the public on issues affecting them. If you’re looking to make a tax-deductible donation to a non-profit organization, we’d like to think we’ve earned your consideration. Thank you to all our fellow park lovers and the best to you in the coming year.
What we’ve been up to in 2017:
Annual Tree Sale and Tribute Tree Donation Programs – As a non-profit organization that relies on membership donations for the majority of our funding, we hold one fundraiser every year, our Annual Tree Sale. (Check our website February 1 to see what we’ll be offering for our 2018 sale.) In addition to raising funds to support our work, we also see it as providing a community service. Folks can purchase trees, shrubs, vines, roses, and edible fruit plants for their own yards or make a cash donation to parks. We partner with over 20 parks and public works departments in the Twin Cities metropolitan area to encourage tree donations for their park systems. Cities are having to allocate more funds towards managing the devastating effects of emerald ash borer (EAB) and less towards planting and replanting trees. In 2017, we donated $6,000.00 to St. Paul, Ramsey County, and other park systems throughout the Twin Cities through our tree donation programs. Since these programs began more than thirty years ago, we have donated more than 7,500 trees to metro area parks.
Parks Chapter of the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan – Cities are required by law to update their Comprehensive Plans every ten years. We are working with the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department and the St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Department on the language for the Parks Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan. In addition to providing input and feedback on the written document, we will also testify before the Planning Commission and the City Council when it is before them in 2018.
Ford Site Masterplan – The City of St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Department did extensive work on this site plan over the past ten years. As part of that work, one of our board members was appointed by Mayor Chris Coleman to serve on the Community Task Force. In addition, we submitted written comments and gave oral testimony to the Planning Commission and City Council. We spoke at a community meeting on behalf of parks and trails and their importance in all development and redevelopment planning. The Ford Site Masterplan is in an overlay district within The Great River Passage Plan and The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area and The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which is the National Park running through our city. Our comments on the Ford Site Masterplan reminded citizens and leadership alike that all these plans, parks, and trails are interconnected and we need to be mindful of their importance.
Parkland Dedication at the Midway Development Area and Soccer Stadium – We provided written comments in support of ensuring parks become a reality in the development plan. We participated in the discussion of the parkland dedication agreement at the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Commission and testified before the St. Paul City Council.
Wakan Tipi Center at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary – The Friends continue partnering with The Lower Phalen Creek Project on their work to receive funding for this project. The concept envisions a visitor and interpretive center to honor and interpret the Dakota sacred site, Wakan Tipi. More than 100 miles of recreational trails converge at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and the St. Paul Public School System takes all fifth graders there as part of their social studies curriculum.
Boys Totem Town – The Friends’ executive director and a member of the Board of Directors serve on The Boys Totem Town Task Force, led by the District 1 Community Council. Boys Totem Town is a Ramsey County juvenile correctional facility located on nearly 80 acres of land, much of which is wooded and in a natural state. We are working with the Community Council, the neighborhood, and Ramsey County to explore options of what to do with the property if the site were to close.
Rondo Land Bridge – Discussions have begun to think creatively about reconnecting the Rondo neighborhood with a land bridge over I-94. Within that framework, the potential exists to add more parkland and trail connections. We are participating in conversations with other non-profits, community members, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and city leadership to explore options and ideas.
Universally Accessible Playground at Victoria Park – The Friends’ executive director was appointed to this committee by former St. Paul City Council member, Dave Thune. The goal is to design and promote the first universally accessible playground in the city, approaching the experience from the lens of being welcoming and accessible to all, rather than adapting a playground to meet disability requirements. The fundraising phase is underway.
Dickerman Park – The Dickerman family donated 2.5 acres of land to the City of St. Paul in 1909. The parcel on the north side of University Avenue and east of Fairview was difficult to recognize as a park. The Dickerman family and Friends of the Parks worked together to try to jumpstart the process years ago. We were excited that a groundbreaking was held this year to begin the initial stages of construction on the western section of the park.
Pedro Park – The St. Paul Comprehensive Plan calls for additional green space in downtown St. Paul. We are working with neighbors and city leadership to find a way to make that happen by adding green space adjacent to Pedro Park, as the city has been promising to do.
Greater and Greener International Parks Conference – The executive director participated in this five-day conference held in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and parks in the area. It was an opportunity to meet and learn from parks professionals and park policy advocates from around the globe.
Annual Membership Meeting – The annual meeting was held to provide updates to the membership and give them the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the Board of Directors. New directors were voted in by the membership. The Award for Public Service was given to St. Paul City Council Member, Jane Prince; Outstanding Service Award to Founding Member, Neil Franey; and Volunteer of the Year Award to Ron Cockriel.
Communications – We are on Facebook and send email communications to our members, alerting them to current topics and actions they can take to be involved and make a positive impact on park policies.