Parks, Trails, & Recreation

As you likely noticed from the about me page, parks, trails, and the outdoors generally have long been a passion of mine. While we have a lot of good facilities here in Mahtomedi now, a lot of work still remains to bring our system up to what it should be. A lack of planning and follow-through in earlier decades of our city mean that some parts of the city lack sufficient park space, and trail corridors are non-contiguous. Moving forward to resolve those issues is possible, but difficult and slow. The northern half of the city lacks parks of decent size, so it is critical to preserve and improve what we do have there - in particular adding and updating play equipment for children at Hallam Park and coming up with a plan for how to best use the Dwinnell open space, and working to make that a more contiguous and well-defined public space with signage and trails.

Completing the Streetcar Trail needs to be a high priority, both as an interim route and long-term solutions to remaining obstacles along the corridor, including ultimately a new bridge across Interstate 694 to connect the south end to municipal trails in Oakdale and in turn the Gateway State Trail. Implementing the Lake Links trail network1 will be a major undertaking, including the Streetcar trail improvements as well as completion of the "around the lake" loop that is currently the focus of the newly-formed advocacy group2, and a northern connection to the Gateway and Brown's Creek Trails along Highway 96 (which while not in Mahtomedi, is certainly of interest to our residents, and will likely call for a connection along Quail Street to access).

Overall, the city needs to plan for long-term sustainable funding of its parks and trails system. Like many other municipalities, Mahtomedi has historically relied on "park dedication fees" collected as a condition for new development, but as the city approaches fully-developed status, that funding stream has dried up. While there have been some increases in transfers from the General Fund in recent budgets, they have not been enough, and this city is currently operating with a practically empty Parks Fund and having to scramble and pull from reserves just to come up with a local match after being awarded a state grant. We need an analysis of what it will actually cost to complete the system according to the comprehensive plan, and to then operate it at the level of quality our residents expect, and use those numbers to guide future general fund budgets, rather than expecting to get by on a past funding source that is never coming back. Bonding for capital improvements like trail acquisition and construction is also a possibility, but for our city would require a referendum, so that is something that needs ongoing conversations.