Elliot Park's money not enough to keep rec center open

Share this:
April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Minneapolis Park and Recreation officials rejected a $2,000 donation from Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc. (EPNI) earlier this month to keep the neighborhood's recreation center open Aug. 16-29.

This is the second year park officials have shuttered the city's 49 recreation centers for the last two weeks of summer as a cost-saving measure. Park wading pools remain open and several outdoor activities continue as planned.

Tom Reid, EPNI executive director, said the neighborhood group had tapped funds from the Whitney Foundation and the Best Buy Children's Foundation to keep the 1000 E. 14th St. park shelter open for the two-week period.

"We are disappointed," Reid said, who added EPNI will organize next summer to prevent a similar closure.

Mike Schmidt, a Park Board assistant superintendent who oversees operations and recreation, said the EPNI money was too little, too late.

"The money wasn't adequate to keep the building open," he said, without saying how much money was required. "The offer was much appreciated, but it came late in the game."

Closing the city's recreation centers allows the Park Board to save on maintenance expenses during a relatively slow period, he said.

To keep the Elliot Park center open, park officials would also have to find someone to staff the building. The staff member assigned to the building is on a scheduled vacation, Schmidt said.

Reid said Elliot Park's recreation center typically remains busy the last two weeks of August. In years past, the neighborhood has organized a youth soccer tournament there, arts-and-crafts programs and other community meetings.

The center is scheduled to reopen Aug. 30.

During the school year, center hours are Monday-Friday, 1-9:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.