Annie is dedicated to serving as a steward of the land and making the Park Board services available to all the citizens of the city. She believes that the Parks are playing a vital role in providing citizens with the quality of life they deserve and in maintaining Minneapolis as a wonderful place to live. Annie strongly supports keeping the Park Board as an independent board separate from the City Council.
Annie’s Key Issues and Initiatives:
• Promoting “green” thinking in Park System from renewable energy options, energy conservation efforts, promotion of “green” building technologies and amenities and sustainable land management practices.
• Meeting multicultural needs; continuing implementation efforts for the East Phillips Cultural Community Center.
• Advocating for open, civil, and transparent processes and more citizen participation in Park Board decision making.
• Providing programming for youth and seniors.
• Reviewing use of pesticides in the parks and continuing reduction in use; promoting “organic” methods wherever possible.
• Keeping on task measures to protect water quality in our lakes and the environmental restoration of wetlands and prairie.
• Renewing and restoring the urban forest; preparing for Emerald Ash Borer.
• Establishing more green space and trees or native plantings downtown.
• Preserving the history and legacy of the Parks.
Commissioner Young strongly supports efforts to involve community members in decision-making and to conduct Park Board business with openness, civility, and respect.
Here is a testimonial from a constituent:
Just a note of thanks for all you have done for Minneapolis and its parks. I never gave the Park Board much thought until earlier this year, when news of the current problems surfaced. I now follow the Board's activities closely, via meeting broadcasts on TV, the internet (the Mpls archives is great!), and the newspaper. The dysfunction within the Park Board has amazed me, but, more than the others, Rochelle and you manage to maintain civility and focus, and are dedicated stewards of our great parks.
...you certainly have my vote in the upcoming election ... I am urging friends and family to support you.
- - John Lehman, Nokomis
Annie Young opposes the proposal of some City Council members to change the City Charter to eliminate the Park Board. In their 126-year old history as an independently governed system, the parks have become nationally recognized and has greatly contributed to Minneapolis's reputation for quality of life.
Below is a press release issued jointly with Council Member Cam Gordon regarding the proposal.
1/30/09 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Annie Young, Commissioner At Large, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward, 612-673-2202 firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Party Elected Officeholders Cam Gordon and Annie Young Oppose Plan to Eliminate Independent Park Board
Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon and At-Large Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Annie Young were surprised this week to learn that Council Members Ostrow, Samuels and Remington are proposing to eliminate the 126-year-old Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
Both officials agree that this proposal risks seriously diminishing the nationally-renowned Minneapolis park system. Their concerns are rooted in the Key Values of the Green Party, including Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Decentralization, Social and Economic Justice and Future Focus.
“Ecologically, the Minneapolis park system is a jewel,” said Young. “From green space to water quality, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has protected the natural environment in this city. Our parks, lakes, river and urban forest serves the natural, leisure and recreation needs of adults, children and families alike. This is the legacy of an independent Park Board, and there is no certainty that the City Council will manage the park system with such diligence and success.”
Council Member Gordon noted that residents are right to be concerned about an apparent ‘power grab’ on the part of City Hall. “Grassroots democracy can only be effective when the public has direct access to decision makers. Multiple points of contact offer residents more opportunities to make their opinions known and have their voices heard. Now, just over a year after the elimination of the independent Library Board, is not the time for us to talk about consolidating still more power in the hands of fewer people.” Both Gordon and Young agree that decentralization of power is important in order to have checks and balances, increase residents’ access to decision makers, foster innovation, and preserve services.
Young and Gordon also warn of the potential impacts this proposal could have on poor communities and working families. “One of the reasons being given for eliminating the Park Board is to ‘create efficiencies.’ In this era in which schools have been closed in low-income neighborhoods, the City has instituted a hiring freeze and all levels of government may be poised to lay off staff, I am wary of allowing ‘efficiency’ to mean loss of services to the least well-off and the loss of good paying union jobs,” adds Gordon.
“We also need to maintain our focus on the future,” said Young. “Over my 20 years of service on the Park Board, I have consistently fought against selling off park assets for development. I fear that the City Council will, in the name of ‘streamlining’ the system and reducing costs, sell off some of our incredibly valuable parkland. This will become much more likely if parks must compete with other City priorities, like police and firefighters.”
Young and Gordon agree that there are significant governance issues that must be resolved between the Park Board and the City. However, they both feel that there are other, as yet unexplored options to preserve parkland, manage public dollars responsibly, and clarify accountability. “One option is to rethink the old 1994 agreement between the City and the Park Board which in effect makes this supposedly independent board dependent on the City for its funding,” said Young. Gordon agreed, saying that “there are concerns about the future of our parks and the relationship between the Park Board and City Council, and it is time for the Council, Park Board and people throughout the city to have a serious, open and inclusive conversation about how to address those concerns and figure out all of the options. It is not time to put the question of its elimination before the voters in November.”
Commissioner Young has worked hard to ensure that the diverse residents of Minneapolis have parks facilities that meet their needs and provide programming opportunities to celebrate their cultures.
MPRB recently approved moving forward on a mult-cultural community center in East Phillips. The revised building design will provide, per the community’s already established priorities a gathering place for all cultures and encourage a shared sense of community. It will offer recreational, educational and healthy development opportunities for all ages, as well as culturally appropriate programs and activities emphasizing child and youth development and leadership skills.
Commissioner Young is proud to have been an early advocate for the Center and to have collaborated with the many groups of people who call East Phillips home in advancing the Center's construction.