Star Tribune

By Emma Nelson

A slate of parks projects in Minnesota cities will split nearly $9 million in federal grants intended to expand recreation opportunities in underserved communities.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced last week that St. Paul's planned North End Community Center, Rochester's Soldiers Memorial Field Park and Minneapolis' Willard Park will receive $8.7 million through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program.

"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," Klobuchar said in a statement.

The announcement follows Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's visit to Minnesota, which included a stop at St. Paul's Midway Peace Park, a 2020 ORLP funding recipient. More than $60 million in grants is available this year to 26 cities, according to the National Park Service.

In Minnesota, the North End Center will get about $2.4 million, Soldiers Field Park will get $5 million and Willard Park will get $1.3 million. Money will go toward a range of amenities, from athletic fields to pools to stormwater management.

In a statement, Smith said that "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."