Duluth Parks and Recreation has released the draft Essential Spaces: Duluth Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Master Plan. The 426-page PDF provides guidance on Duluth’s play spaces for the next decade and offers recommendations on how the city can “continue to support a healthy and vibrant community, enhance inclusion and equity, and advance environmental protection in our park system within a sustainable budget framework.”
The draft Essential Spaces master plan and a comment form are available at duluthmn.gov/parks. Printed copies of the plan are available for review at the Parks and Recreation office on the ground floor of Duluth City Hall during regular office hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and all three Duluth Public Library branches.
The public comment period will close on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Parks and Recreation will review the public comments received, incorporate changes where deemed appropriate, and prepare the final plan for consideration at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Sept. 21 before bringing it to city council for final approval.
On Aug. 11 the city administration announced it will ask the city council to authorize a referendum that would, if approved by voters, increase funds generated by the existing park fund levy and allow the funds to grow over time by changing the levy from a fixed dollar amount to a fixed percentage of taxable property value.
The original park fund levy, approved by voters in 2012, was established at a capped dollar amount of $2.6 million annually, with no allowances for growth or adjustment to account for inflation or market changes. The proposed change would allow market-driven fluctuation in the future. Pending council approval, the ballot question will be presented to voters in the General Election this November.
The 2012-established park fund levy payment for a home valued at $200,000 has dropped from $94.53 in 2012 to what will be $58.01 in 2023 if no change is made.
For a home valued at $200,000, the amended ordinance would restore the park fund levy payment to its 2012 level of $94.53 and maintain it at that level over time.
The council will vote on the ballot language at its Aug. 15 meeting. More information on the park fund can be found at duluthmn.gov/parks/parkfund.
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