Sierra Club Northstar Chapter Minneapolis Political Committee
Candidate Name: Meg Forney, email@example.com, 612-926-7707
Park District: At-Large
1) The Sierra Club’s priorities for Minneapolis parks include reducing carbon emissions, preventing air and water pollution, protecting and expanding wildlife habitat and improving transit and pedestrian opportunities to and within parks. Please answer the following three questions with respect to these issues:
a) Describe environmental efforts you have undertaken and accomplishments you have achieved to improve the Minneapolis Park system or within your community.
In 1978, thirteen majestic elms were taken down from my boulevard block due to Dutch elm disease. That catapulted me into the newly formed ECCO Shade Tree Committee and I have been advocating for park related issues ever since.
Most recently my efforts have ranged from organizing clean up efforts (with my neighborhood board and Whole Foods) to serving as appointed representative to the Metropolitan Council’s SW LRT Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) as well as appointee to MPRB’s SW LRT CAC to protect the parklands adjacent to the Kenilworth Corridor and create strong and safe pedestrian and bicycle connections to and from Lake Calhoun and the West Lake SW LRT Station. These projects require a network of advocacy that I have demonstrated.
b) If you are elected/re-elected as Park Commissioner, what specific policies or actions do you purpose to address the Sierra Club priorities identified above?
Advocate for the egalitarian access to our parks. This is still a hurdle. Man-made physical and cultural barriers need to be bridged. Continue to advocate for developing strong connections and access to and from park amenities. I was an original board member of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, served as AFCAC South Alternate (formerly Representative) and was appointed to numerous Citizen Advisory Committees regarding SW LRT over the past dozen years, each effort building new connections to under-served communities.
Further leadership is needed to prevent SW LRT from severing the Kenilworth Corridor’s natural environment, enhance the recently opened Van White Bridge’s north/south connections, connect Above the Falls to north and northeast communities, and support the east-west connection of the Midtown Greenway. Also needed is increased collaboration of Park Board with cities, county, Met Council as well as separate private and public entities. My established relationships will serve MPRB well.
c) Identify one environmental initiative or project that you want to champion in the next four years if you are elected.
Invasive species in our waterways. The prevention of Asian carp migrating up the Mississippi River is paramount. The need for closure at the Ford Dam and not just at St Anthony Falls needs congressional action. The river gorge needs to be protected. As a rower, I appreciate this natural resource’s preservation. With Asian carp found as close as Winona, this issue is imminent. The oversight of Congress to enact these measures entails both local and national leadership. Eurasian milfoil and zebra mussel’s spread needs broad-based patrolling.
2) What steps will you take as a Park Commissioner to expand riverfront parks in north and northeast Minneapolis?
As the AFCAC South Delegate and now Alternate since 2003, I have been supporting the enactment of AFCAC’s master plan. As Park Commissioner, I have hands-on knowledge to carry out this vision. The drive for development along this corridor needs continual oversight. My proven leadership as chair of the MPRB’s Above the Falls Phase 1 CAC will serve these communities well.
3) When is it appropriate to privatize public parkland?
Only where there is a direct benefit to the general public. The private/public partnership between the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Park system is an example where there are direct benefits to the public. But the use as a profit center is inappropriate. I am concerned that development is driving many projects of MPRB such as the land bridge at Lake Calhoun. Serving on this MPRB CAC, I advocated for the inclusion of the northwest access as well, where the most trafficked road in Hennepin County and the second most visited area in the State of Minnesota converge. Whereas private development entities drove the initial charrette, now a broader public will benefit from this initiative.
4) What is your position on the use of artificial turf in Minneapolis
I do not support artificial turf use in Minneapolis parks. The advantage of no maintenance does not outweigh the environmental and personal health impact of its use.
5) What do you see as the most pressing environmental issues facing Minneapolis parks?
The continuation of trail connections into under-served and disenfranchised communities while honoring and preserving the natural environment. To accomplish this we need increased funding and stronger multi-jurisdictional relationships. During my extensive engagement with the Parks, I have developed working relationships with community leaders in public and private agencies and across city, county, metropolitan and state borders. To address the issues confronting our park system, these relationships are imperative to utilize. Coalition building is essential to leverage funding dollars.
Thank you for your consideration for endorsement. I welcome an interview with your committee.