In December, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved a Hennepin Youth Sports Program (HYSP) facility grant application submitted by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) that is designated in part towards improving the tennis courts at Folwell Park. The original grant application had been for $220,000, with only $100,000 being approved for the Folwell project. The 2017 application was accompanied by a letter of support from InnerCity Tennis.
As reported in our November 2017 issue, the Folwell tennis facilities (there are four courts) have not been maintained for a number of years, leaving them in their currently unsafe and unusable state. The MPRB had submitted a HYSP grant application in 2016 to repair the courts, but it was not successful.
In the past, the courts were used by schools as well as individuals, and even local fire fighters would stop by and play during their breaks! That Folwell Park has a recreation center makes a lesson program a real possibility. The tennis courts at Webber Park are in heavy use during the playing season. New or refurbished courts at Folwell could expand access to the sport here on the Northside.
A 2017 Fall equipment application submitted by MPRB under the same program for soccer goals, bleachers and volleyball net standards for Folwell Park was also successful.
What is the Hennepin Youth Sports Program (HYSP)?
Through its grants, the HYSP allows municipalities, park districts and school districts to create, expand or improve athletic or recreational facilities and to purchase new equipment. Individual equipment such as balls, bats, gloves, uniforms or protective gear are not eligible for equipment grants. State of Minnesota law authorizing the construction of Target Field allows Hennepin County to use proceeds from the 0.15% sales tax surcharge to award over $2 million each year for sports facilities and equipment. Since it began in 2009, HYSP has awarded $21.7 million for 136 facility projects, 260 small equipment projects, 10 playground projects, and water safety lessons. These funds have also been used to keep Hennepin County libraries open on Sundays.
The HYSP has separate applications for facilities grants (awards from $10,000 to $300,000), capital equipment grants (up to $10,000), and playground structure grants (up to $25,000). Facilities grants are awarded once per year in December. Equipment grants are awarded twice per year, once in December and once in March. Playground structure grants are awarded once per year in March. All awards are reimbursement of costs up to the amount of the grant after completion of the facility or purchase of the equipment.
The Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) is contracted to serve as the grant administrator for the HYSP. MASC evaluates the applications and provides recommendations to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. Learn more about the program at mnsports.org/hysp.stm.
New park design concepts for Folwell include tennis courts
The MPRB has recently concluded a round of workshops that gave the public an opportunity to view and comment on new park design concepts for every Minneapolis neighborhood park north of I-394 and west of the Mississippi River. This process is a key part of creating an overall long-term plan known as the North Service Area Master Plan (NSAMP). Each park design concept includes options and locations for a range of amenities and activities. Most parks have multiple design concepts. The MPRB also posted a survey that allowed residents to provide online feedback on specific park designs.
Folwell Park currently has two design concepts on the table, both of which include tennis courts. By the end of 2018, the MPRB hopes to arrive at a single preferred concept for each park. A public comment period will be an important part of this process. The MPRB is working hard to ensure that Minneapolis residents have had ample opportunity to provide feedback on each concept.
Under the terms of the Hennepin Youth Sports Program (HYSP), the projects that were awarded grants in December 2017 are required to be completed by June 30, 2019. The funds must be spent per the grant application. In this instance, the $100,000 Folwell Park facility award is designated to improve the Folwell tennis courts as well as the athletic field. We have been unable to confirm with the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC) whether this has to be a 50/50 split between the two projects, or if it can be more heavily weighted in favor of one particular project.
Adam Arvidson, Director of Strategic Planning for the MPRB, explained that there are a number of things that have to happen between a grant award and actual construction activity. Implementation would become the task of an assigned project manager in the Design and Construction department who would work closely with Arvidson.
However, since the HYSP grant is unlikely to adequately cover the cost of the repair of the current tennis courts, this means that additional funding will need to be allocated towards this project. And since funding decisions cannot be made until each park has an approved design under the North Service Area Master Plan (NSAMP), functioning tennis courts for Folwell remain, for the moment, on the drawing board.
Anyone wanting to stay abreast of park improvements in our community can view park design concepts and subscribe to NSAMP updates at minneapolisparks.org/park_care__improvements/park_projects/current_projects/north_service_area_master_plan/.
This article was written by Carolyn Bastick