Parks and greenspace have been important to so many during the pandemic. Minnesotans have always valued our parks and natural areas—time and time again, we have shown we’re willing to invest in these spaces. During the last economic downturn in 2008, Minnesotans across the state overwhelmingly voted in favor of increasing their sales tax to pass the Clean Water, Land, & Legacy Amendment. This November, 64% of Rochester voters supported a city referendum to protect water quality, natural areas, and park improvements.
Now residents in the City of Health, and those who visit this vibrant community, will benefit from the $2 million in annual investments. This investment is due in large part to the partnership between The Trust for Public Land (TPL)—the national leader in state and local funding referendums—and Conservation Minnesota. After working together on the successful 2018 parks referendum in Brooklyn Park, TPL staff and our field team reconvened to assess other communities seeking additional investment in their parks.
Rochester was a perfect candidate. The organizations worked with city officials to include the question on the November ballot. Southern Minnesota Regional Manager Anna Richey helped form the local Vote Yes on Parks committee to work along with Conservation Minnesota and TPL to educate voters about the referendum. In a year of very close races, the referendum’ssuccess shows that protecting our outdoors is something we can all agree on.