Did You Know Voters Don’t Directly Elect the Rochester Park Board?
The Rochester Park Board has been making headlines recently but did you know that citizens have no direct say in who actually serves on the board?
Rochester's Park Board usually doesn't get too much attention. Usually, that is. Lately, though, the Board has been in the news here in the Med City for several issues, including a plan to control the goose population at several Rochester parks (a plan the Parks Board approved in 2020 but proved unpopular with some residents when it was implemented recently.)
Even more recently, Park Board President Linea Archer has also generated some attention with some comments she made during the Board's April meeting regarding the U.S. flag and its placement on the Law Enforcement Memorial that is scheduled to be constructed at Soldiers Field Parky. (You read more and watch the video to see the comments President Archer made HERE.)
And, earlier this year, both the Park Board and the similarly-structured Rochester Library Board were in the news when the City Council looked at a proposal from the Charter Commission to change Rochester's city charter and make both of those boards advisory-only-- a proposal the Council voted against at its meeting back in February.
I have to confess that I was a little unclear on just what duties the Rochester Park Board is tasked with undertaking, so as I was doing a little research I found out more about the RPB-- and found that you and I essentially have no direct say over who serves on the board, despite the board having some pretty broad powers.
According to the Rochester city website, Park Board members don't run for office, so you and I cannot vote for or against them; instead, they're appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council. The site says:
The seven-member Park Board, as defined by City Charter, oversees the Park & Recreation Department. The members represent each of the six city wards, a seventh at large member serves as president of the Board. All members are appointed by the Mayor of Rochester and ratified by the Common Council. They serve four-year terms and no more than two consecutive terms.
But these non-elected members have some pretty broad powers when it comes to overseeing Rochester's parks. According to the city website, Park Board members:
+ Exercise policy direction for the management of all the parks and parkways of the city;
+ Ensure recreational & leisure services are provided for residents & visitors;
+ Serve as liaison for residents in our respective wards;
+ Review & approve department annual budget;
+ Review & approve all direct expenditures, from the park funds, for the maintenance &
improvement of parks & parkways
So if you have a concern about something happening in one of Rochester's parks (like, say, last year when the Parks and Rec Department eliminated garbage containers and stopped collecting garbage at many of Rochester's small neighborhood parks-- a policy originally enacted to save money during the initial stages of the pandemic and continued again this year), you'd be better served to contact the Park Board Member that represents your ward, not necessarily the City Council member who represents your ward. You can read more about the Park Board HERE.
That current Park Board set-up is one of the unique things about living here in Minnesota's Med City. Kind of like some of the unique things we really only SAY here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Keep scrolling to check out 10 Things You Only Say When You're In Minnesota.