E-DEMOCRACY | A cry goes forth — how LONG? Minneapolis Park Board and Phillips Pool


From: Hannah Lieder Date: Sep 22 16:49 UTC

Hello Minneapolis Residents,

I have very alarming news.

As you know, we received precious state bonding money this year to renovate and reopen the only public indoor swimming pool in the entire city of Minneapolis. This bonding money required local officials to secure a $350,000 grant from the Hennepin County Youth Sports Commission that is due in October. On Wednesday the MPRB Planning Committee voted 2-2 on the motion to approve the submission of the grant. Consequently the motion did not carry. Those voting for: Scott Vreeland and Bob Fine. Those voting against: Anita Tabb and Liz Wielinski. One member was absent. The motion needed a majority vote to be approved.

Unless the full MPRB board can procedurally overcome this vote and approve this grant application at the October 3rd board meeting the MPRB will forfeit the bonding money and the pool renovation will be dead. We will lose the $2.1 million dollars.

How long will it take for Minneapolis to recognize the importance of swimming?

This summer two African American children drowned in Minneapolis lakes. Last summer one African American child drowned in a Minneapolis lake. How long must this go on? All children in the MInneapolis Public School are required to do fire drills and intruder drills and take safe sex and CPR classes all in an effort to keep them safe. But the one thing they are actually dying from, drowning, and local officials can’t figure out how to provide this important lifesaving skill for the children of this city?

And if this sorry situation isn’t bad enough, I have more discouraging news. The Minneapolis Public Schools have only ONE 6-lane competition pool to serve a city of 380,000 residents and after a 2-year renovation that pool reopened last week to devastating reviews by the parents. In addition, the Olson Middle School pool has now closed. The Minneapolis Public Schools are now down to one high school pool, one middle school pool, and one therapy pool for the entire school district and all three of these pools are located in the wealthiest corners of the city. How did Minneapolis lose all its inner city public school pools?

The South High School Girls Swim Team has 79 swimmers and they have no facility to practice or to host meets. The team must be split up and bussed to Southwest and Northeast which requires them to spend two hours per day being transported. And then they have to practice with 12 swimmers per lane! The South swimmers do not have an equitable experience to that of the student athletes from Southwest or in the schools against which they compete.

How long until there is fairness and equity for children in the Minneapolis Public Schools?

How long until Minneapolis recognizes this is a significant public health issue? Minnesota has some of the highest minority drowning rates in the country. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1-14 but in Minnesota it is the leading cause of accidental death for African American children. Minority children in Minneapolis are not learning to swim because neither the MPRB or the Minneapolis Public Schools can figure out how to provide pools and swimming lessons for them.

Does Minneapolis need to have another civil rights lawsuit filed against them to get them to do the right thing for the children of this city? And make no mistake: this is a civil rights issue. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, municipal pools across the country chose to close rather than integrate. With few exceptions swimming pools remain as segregated today as they were before 1964, including Minneapolis.

By providing bonding money for the Phillips Pool, the State of Minnesota made it clear they care about the children of Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Park Board and the Minneapolis Public Schools need to step up to the plate and do the right thing for our children.

And a cry goes forth — Oh LORD, how long until there is righteousness and justice in this land?


Hannah Lieder

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” Loren Eiseley

From: Aaron White Date: Sep 22 17:12 UTC

First, how exactly can something like this be decided without the participation of all members? Secondly, what happens to the money if it is voted down. Third, I’m not sure this is a racial issue, but I assume you have reasons aside from the location of the proposed pool, to back up such claims. Ascribing racial prejudiced to an issue should not be done lightly.

From: Robert Albee Date: Sep 22 17:39 UTC

I did not read what Hannah wrote as a racial motive. She was telling who feels the consequences most greatly, which you can agree with or not… Sent from my iPhone

From: Steven Clift Date: Sep 22 18:23 UTC

It is statistical known that lower income kids, often racial minorities, are disproportionate victims of drowning.

So the lack of affordable and accessible swimming instructions takes its toll.

Steven Clift

From: Elizabeth Sowden Date: Sep 22 18:38 UTC

I agree that swimming is important and so is knowing how to swim. But I can’t get worked up about the situation at South High because that is exactly how it was ten years ago when I was a student there. We sometimes had 15 girls to a lane and practiced every day at Southwest. I don’t remember it as a hardship. We teammates studied together after school and then took the bus to Southwest for practice. It was fine. Except for when somebody pulled the fire alarm and we all had to go outside, dripping, in October…

From: Hannah Lieder Date: Sep 22 18:51 UTC

Except Elizabeth, now the team can’t even practice together. They are split between three different facilities and have had their practice days and hours cut to even accomodate them with this arrangement.

From: Happy Reynolds-Cook Date: Sep 22 19:04 UTC

Hannah, can you provide some direction as to what you would like us in the community to do?

Sent from my iPad

From: Anna Leahy Date: Sep 22 21:54 UTC

Not saying there isn’t racism, but the actual, systematic, institutionalized discrimination is against the poor, not any particular minority. Sure there are lots of things in play keeping certian minorities poor, but the the real problem is that the poor can’t buy politicians. /soapbox

From: Jim Graham Date: Sep 23 10:41 UTC

How long? How long must the poor children of poor communities suffer the discrimination of uncaring politicians? Is this problem just one more case of elected Minneapolis politicians WASTING the resources of Minneapolis? Or is it truly just simply a case ofparochialdiscrimination against poor communities and poor children? Or could it be both?

It really is not a racial thing. It IS a class thing!!! And yes, there is for sure discrimination going on. What fool would possibly vote to turn down State funding for an EXISTING Park Board facility? Not just any old existing one, but the largest public use building and asset owned by the Minneapolis Park Board. And if it was not a foolish act, what could have been the motivation BUT discrimination?

Of course this is NOT new. The Minneapolis Park Board has discriminated against the people from “Impacted” poor communities for the last 30 years. The Peavy Park (and other parks in the area) and what has been allowed there over the last 30 years is a clear example of that discrimination. The motivation for even allowing the Boy”s and Girl’s Clubs of America to almost destroy this facility in the first place, and then walk away withoutfulfillingthe legalcontractualobligation to restore the original building and pool is certainly both a demonstration of mismanagement, but also clearly an example of discrimination against the community by its very complacency to allow such destruction of a publicly owned facility. In which wealthy community would the Minneapolis Park Board have allowed such mismanagement to go on? Can anyone imagine such mismanagement being allowed in Southwest Minneapolis? I do not think so!

I cannot imagine what motivation would possibly cause two “Supposed” public servants to be sodisdainfulof poor communities. Sodisdainfulof the huge efforts put forth by community people to get that State Bonding to begin with. Theincredible originaleffort to save and fund this building 20 years ago before GIVING it to the Minneapolis Park Board to hold in trust for the citizens of Minneapolis. Does anyone doubt how hard it was to get that funding through thatRepublicancontrolled legislature to fix the previous mismanagement of the Minneapolis Park Board? Doubt how much time and effort it took from community residents and from State legislators from Minneapolis? Then only to have such a waste of that effort and that almostirreplaceableCity resource? To do so represents absolutely criminalmismanagementin my opinion.

What will it take to overcome this irresponsible decision? Action by the Park Board as a whole is what it will take. Nothing more than responsible action by more responsible elected officials. More responsible action by Minneapolis Park Board Members with greater fiscal and fiduciary responsibility can easily solve this problem. One would hope the Park Board as a whole is wise enough now to NOT squander such an economic asset to Minneapolis just because it will serve mainly poor children from a poor Neighborhood and a poor community. Such would not only be cheating the poor children, but cheating the residents of ALL of Minneapolis. All it takes is more responsible elected politicians acting responsibly for the interests of the entire City, not just their own petty political interests. We need responsible politicians that responsibly husband the resources of Minneapolis, not foolishly allow them to go to waste! That is all it will take.

The previous opinions are those solely of Jim Graham and do not represent the views of any political party or PAC. I, Jim Graham, approve this message! :-0

Jim Graham

“We measure the quality of our City by the way we provide for our children, our elders and our handicapped. It should be our intent to build community by laying a foundation on such principles and to organize its structure to guarantee the safety and happiness of our most vulnerable.” – Jim Graham

From: Annie Young Date: Sep 23 16:41 UTC

I tried to send out the message below yesterday in response to Hannah’s ‘panicked’ e-message but was having computer issues so asked Bob Albee to send it out for me and I am not sure he did. I see Lisa McDonald and Carol Becker did start to address this side of the story.


Bob – can you please post this for me to the Phillips Issues Forum as my computer is having issues and I can’t seem to make it happen – thanks.

From: Annie Young Date: Sep 23 16:53 UTC

On Aaron White’s question regarding who made this decision. It was made in committee which means it still has to go up to the full Board. In the committee this week there were 4 people with one absent. The vote was 2 -2 – hardly any kind of mandate or decision. There is still more to come in deciding this issue.

And I would politely suggest that if Phillips folks want to convince the Park Board to do this pool – they play NICE. No one likes to be called names and accusations which aren’t necessarily true and would appreciate a little more civility in the case.

We are elected to make decisions for a very big system that is part of an entire City. It isn’t like Phillips hasn’t gotten anything the last few years – they got some new upgraded equipment at Cedar Field, new great fields at Stewart, a new community center and fields at East Phillips, and a transformed Phillips Community Center with plans for a reconfigured Peavey Park in the works. And we are currently deciding what to do with Waite House in midtown Phillips. Please folks – Phillips has not been ignored.

For the moment,

Annie Young

East Phillips

Citywide Park Commissioner

From: James Cook Date: Sep 23 17:03 UTC

Hi Annie. I have a one off question. Is there any one group who has led the charge on revamping Peavey Park? Ventura Village Association is taking most of the credit for this, however, I thought that there were several groups involved.

In the meantime, I agree with what you just said. The knee jerk accusations are misguided.

From: Aaron White Date: Sep 23 17:12 UTC


Thanks for the information, this is what I wanted to know. If there is no plan/funds to maintain the pool then I, and I think everyone, could easily understand why the board isn’t in agreement.

From: Steven Clift Date: Sep 23 17:36 UTC

Do the Parks operate any year round swimming facilities for the community currently?

What kind of planning has been done to say compare this with Oxford pool in St. Paul – http://www.stpaul.gov/index.aspx?NID=1743 – How might the budget/revenue and activities/foot print compare?

I haven’t seen this in the news lately, but if all these concerns were bubbling why no current press coverage? (If out there, it would be very helpful.)

It seems like this has to be a city-wide asset and not just viewed as a single park thing to work.

From: Ed Felien Date: Sep 23 18:52 UTC

Forgive me for reviving a dead horse only to beat it once more, but the “People’s Stadium” that Governor Dayton and Mayor Rybak have given to the City of Minneapolis is supposed to be maintained by the City of Minneapolis for 30 years at a cost of at least $7.5 million per year. This cost includes the maintenance of a park fronting the stadium that the Governor and Mayor say will be used for merry-making at least 8 times a year for home Viking games. The other 357 days of the year, presumably, it will be an excellent place for drug dealing, muggings and solicitation for carnal pleasures. The City is expected to maintain this park for the pleasure of suburbanites who love to come into the city and party. The people of Minneapolis should insist that the construction of the new stadium include a full gym and pool for the recreation of residents of the City and that the maintenance of that pool and gym should come out of the maintenance costs we are already paying through our very special sales tax and should most definitely not fall on the already heavy shoulders of the Minneapolis Park Board.

Ed Felien

See thread here.

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