WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (both D-MN) announced significant new federal funding to support outdoor access and recreation in Minnesota following Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s visit to the state. The new projects include outdoor recreation additions to the North End Community Center in St. Paul, improvements to Soldiers Field Park in Rochester, and an expansion and renovation of Willard Park in Minneapolis.
“With our state’s lakes, parks, and trails, getting outside is central to Minnesotans’ way of life,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “By expanding green spaces and creating new outdoor recreational opportunities, this funding will help ensure that all Minnesotans, regardless of zip code, can enjoy the benefits of the outdoors.”
“Everyone should have access to outdoor spaces and recreational opportunities,” said Sen. Smith. “Yet too often these spaces are unequally distributed between wealthy and underserved communities. These new projects will help create more green spaces in economically distressed areas where our kids can play and families can enjoy the outdoors.”
The $8.7 million in grant funding is available through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program. The ORLP program enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors in economically underserved communities.
During her visit to Minnesota, Secretary Haaland joined Senators Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, and Representative Betty McCollum at the recently completed Midway Peace Park in St. Paul, which received ORLP funding in 2020.
More details on the Minnesota projects are below:
Rice (North End) Recreation Center (St. Paul)
North End Community Center Project – $2,409,625
- The City of St. Paul will create outdoor recreation opportunities at the site of the Rice Recreation Center to address unmet community needs. The project will result in a multi-use athletic field, sepak takraw courts, a new play area, increased flexible green space, a stormwater management system, improved accessibility, lighting, furnishings, plantings, landscaping, onsite parking, and increased shade opportunities.
Soldiers Field Park (Rochester)
Soldiers Field Park Improvement – $5,000,000
- The City of Rochester will expand recreational activities at Soldiers Field Park, located near Rochester’s Downtown, Historic Southwest, and Slattery Park neighborhoods. The Park serves a diverse, economically-distressed population with poverty levels reaching nearly 40 percent. The project will add recreational features prioritized by the local communities, including a lap pool, diving pool, toddler pool, splash area, and bathhouse/locker facilities, and provide an inclusive playground, trail connections, and a picnic shelter.
Willard Park (Minneapolis)
Secure Public Parkland and Invest in Recreation: Willard Park – $1,300,000
- The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board will expand and renovate Willard Park. The dilapidated park currently serves a local community with a poverty rate of 31 percent. Planned renovations and new installations include a recreation area, play area, basketball courts, pathways, skate/BMX-spot elements, athletic field amenities, an outdoor community gathering area, and a restroom/storage building.