County shifting funding for parks

The Anoka County Board has approved the shifting of dollars within the 2012 state parks and trails legacy grants it received.

For 2012, the county was allocated $1,376,000 for a variety of projects; the shifts don’t change the total appropriation received by the county.

The action by the board, on the recommendation of its Parks and Recreation Committee, adds funding to continue the services of the Conservation Corps of Minnesota within the county parks system to the end of this year and to fund the volunteer resource development coordinator position in 2013.

According to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director, some of the money was moved from the Mississippi West Regional Park boat launch project, which came in under budget.

In addition, money originally allocated to the volunteer resource development coordinator position for 2012 has been moved to 2013 because costs did not come in as high as expected for this year, VonDeLinde said.

A volunteer resource development coordinator was hired within the parks and recreation department this year with parks and trails legacy dollars as a two-year limited term position contingent on continued outside funding and the effectiveness of the work, he said.

The role of the coordinator has been to cultivate new volunteer activities and initiatives as well as to seek new revenue streams from sponsorships, donations and grant dollars, VonDeLinde said when the position was created in the fall of 2011.

While the Conservation Corps Minnesota will be working in the parks system through the end of this year, the corps won’t be back next year – because of lack of funding, according to VonDeLinde.

Like the volunteer resource development coordinator position, it has been funded by the state parks and trails legacy dollars, both in 2011 and 2012, VonDeLinde said.

But for 2013 the county parks and recreation department is earmarking the state parks and trails legacy dollars for infrastructure needs, he said,

These include road and parking lots reconstruction projects at both Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and Riverfront Regional Park, VonDeLinde said.

But the 2011 and 2012 agreements with Conservation Corps Minnesota have worked very well for the county, he said.

The Conservation Corps, which comprises a crew of six, including a leader, provides its own equipment and transportation.

Crew members are college students or graduates in the field of forestry and conservation.

They have been working  in the county parks for nine months of the year – March to December – supplementing the work of county employees, VonDeLinde said.

The Conservation Corps has done landscaping work, buckthorn and oak wilt removal and built retaining walls, among other duties, he said.

Dollars for the legacy program come from the state sales tax increase that Minnesota voters approved at the 2008 general election through a constitutional amendment.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]