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Council Perspective: Time to carry forward our parks and trails legacy

By Mayor Anne Burt

Powers Lake Fishing PierWhen we moved from the Chicago suburbs to the Twin Cities 17 years ago and began house hunting, I quickly noticed the amazing parks and trails system in Woodbury. With young and active children at the time, I was ecstatic at the thought of my neighborhood being connected with other neighborhoods, allowing great distances for walking, inline skating, skateboarding, bike riding and dog walking. I did not see a parks and trails system quite like Woodbury's in other communities in the metro. 

We ultimately chose our first Woodbury home, featuring a trail that connected in our side yard. I loved seeing all the people out getting fresh air, walking their pets, teaching their kids how to ride their bikes - in all seasons and all types of weather. The trail created a connectedness with our neighbors. 

It also was comforting that I could allow my kids to ride their bike, walk to a friend's house, or meet at a local park knowing that they could get there easily without encountering much motorized traffic or having to cut through other residents' yards to get there. 

While our children have grown, my husband, Jeff, and I continue to be active users of Woodbury's trails, primarily for biking. We especially enjoy waking up at the crack of dawn on summer mornings and hitting the pavement for an hour before the start of our workday. We make a point to go in all directions and use different routes each day. Our favorite route is what we call "The Lakes Loop" through the neighborhoods around Powers, Markgrafs, Wilmes and Colby Lakes. It's spectacular! 

During the pandemic, I have been especially thankful for our trails - and based on the amount of people I see out on them - I know our residents have appreciated them as well. We've been able to exercise and take in the fresh air while safely social distancing and being outdoors.

Parks and Trails Replacement Plan and Funding
It's evident that it took decades of thoughtful planning to set aside the land needed to develop our parks and trails system through neighborhoods, around lakes and connecting them to schools and commercial areas.

Now, as the city has grown to more than 76,000 residents, the parks and trails system is aging and needing repairs.

We are proposing to institute a franchise fee on utilities (gas and electric) to help fund future parks and trail facility replacements. The estimated franchise fee impact to Woodbury property owners would be $5 per month (total for gas and electric) for most residential properties. The franchise fee for larger commercial properties will be more, with many variables influencing the final estimate for non-residential properties.

We want to hear your thoughts about investing in our parks and trails. The City Council hosted virtual listening sessions May 6. If you weren't able to connect with us virtually on May 6, provide your input by sending an email to reconline@woodburymn.gov or calling Parks and Recreation at 651-714-3583.

Learn more about the Parks and Trails Replacement Plan and Funding

I'm grateful for the exceptional recreational amenities we enjoy today and appreciate the solid, forward-thinking decisions made by past city residents and leaders who made it happen. Now, it's our turn to work together in developing a sound replacement plan and carry forward our parks and recreation legacy for future generations.