Corcoran Park Improvement Are Coming

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Last September CNO organized a community discussion on the future of Corcoran Park – this was in response to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board requests for input on the future of park amenities, programs and services, and recreation centers around the city. Over 60 attendees shared what they love about our park and what they’d most like to improve or change. We gathered additional input through conversations at the park with families, Twin Cities Native Lacrosse and other frequent users, through conversations with local day care providers, through door-knocking near the park, and through an online survey. After hearing from over 150 households, the CNO board of directors sent a letter to the Park Board seeking their attention and collaboration to implement the community’s top priorities.

In February, our board chair Lisa Barajas and I met with Corcoran Park staff and the regional parks manager, Assistant Park Board Superintendents from the planning, recreation, and environment departments, and Commissioner Scott Vreeland to discuss residents’ top concerns and priorities. Also in February, the Park Board released updated plans showing major Corcoran Park improvements to be implemented over time, many of which respond to the community’s priorities – find these printed along with this article.

Below is an update on the community prioritizes we gathered and corresponding Park Board plans. What do you think of the improvement plans for our park? The CNO Board wants to hear from you again – please visit www.corcoranneighborhood.org to share your comments, which CNO will once again compile and share with Park leadership. You can also contact your Park Board Commissioner Scott Vreeland at svreeland@minneapolisparks.org or 612-721-7892.

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Physical assets to improve (identified by park users in Sept. 2015)

  1. Repair & update playground and pool. Update / replace sand, add more swings, and improve for older (age 6-10) kids. In the near-term, Park leaders plan to replace the sand with wood chips. Major upgrades will eventually occur through the Park Board’s Capital Improvement Plan, but no such improvements are currently in this Plan through 2021.
  2. Repair, repurpose, or remove the tennis court. The Park Board Master Plan (printed with this article) would remove the tennis court and provide a new Group Shelter.
  3. Fix up sports fields. Formalize soccer infrastructure (goals, striping) in response to heavy informal use, and mark where different groups are supposed to be. The Master Plan would remove the existing baseball diamond and renovate the large multi-use field, including the addition of a proper drainage sub-base and irrigation. In addition, CNO recently helped Corcoran Park apply for a grant to secure new soccer goals for the field.
  4. Improve landscaping and add community garden / pollinator garden / fruit trees. The Master Plan shows a new Urban Agriculture Area in the southern portion of the park. CNO is seeking additional details on whether this would require removal of the existing shade trees in this area. Park leadership also discussed the future possibility of removing the existing parking lot to accommodate a pollinator garden or small orchard, if there was community support.

Programs & services to improve (identified by park users in Sept. 2015)

  1. Tell us what is offered and ask us what we want. Share info in the monthly Corcoran News newspaper (free; delivered free of charge to all Corcoran homes). Park staff have agreed to provide regular updates through the Corcoran News and online CNO communication venues. These will also include updates on offerings at nearby parks such as Powderhorn and Sibley.
  2. After-school programs / homework help. Park Board staff are exploring options to offer their “Rec Plus” after-school program (til 6:00pm) for 6-12 year old kids.
  3. Pre-school / toddler programs. Park staff will continue their current offerings for pre-school and toddler ages, which have been well-attended.
  4. Youth sports. “Rec Plus” programming (see above) will be the first step to building a base of students to support youth sports programs. The Park piloted a soccer program last summer that they hope to build upon.
  5. Adult & senior programs. The Park Board offers senior programs at various southside park locations – these can be found on their website.
  6. Indoor programs during the winter. Lower South manager Ann Heath said that adding indoor wintertime programs is a new priority for the Park Board.
  7. Naturalist programs. The addition of an Urban Agriculture Area, discussed above, would allow for these programs.

Staffing to improve (identified by park users in Sept. 2015)

  1. Address drug / youth / smoking / behavior issues. Corcoran Park staff have a practice of engaging rather than dispersing any loitering youth. They work with Park Police as needed and on CNO’s recommendation, they have also reached out to the principal at South High.
  2. Pick up litter more regularly. CNO leaders shared the impression that the free summer lunch program, while great for feeding children, leads to excessive waste and litter. Park leaders talked about hiring more staff during the summer to address maintenance.
  3. Spanish speaking staff. Last Fall Corcoran Park hired a native Spanish speaker who continues to work 3 days per week. A couple of other staff also speak Spanish, but Park staff recognize the need to expand the languages that their staff speak.

Rec Center facilities to improve (identified by park users in Sept. 2015)

  1. Update building including energy efficiency. Improvements to the building are not in the Park Board’s Capital Improvement Plan through 2021, but Park leaders say they hope to make improvements through their “Closing the Gap” and “RecQuest” initiatives.
  2. Update bathrooms and make open more often, esp. from outside. Park staff had not been opening the exterior doors to restrooms until the building opens at 1:00pm due to some youth behavioral issues, but committed to opening the restrooms during the morning as the weather warms up.
  3. Improve open hours and options to reserve space. Park staff currently handle frequent reservation requests from the community through e-mail and drop-ins. They will work to share reservation rates and policies more widely.
  4. Update computer lab. The Park Board just renewed a contract to maintain the computers, which receive heavy use from adults and youth, including for homework help. Programs including Microsoft Academy are offered.

Please take advantage of this opportunity to share your thoughts about plans for Corcoran Park. Visit www.corcoranneighborhood.org to share your comments, which CNO will once again compile and share with Park leadership. You can also contact your Park Board Commissioner Scott Vreeland at svreeland@minneapolisparks.org or 612-721-7892.

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