Senators Klobuchar, Smith Announce Vital Federal Funds to Improve Outside Entry in Minnesota


$8.7 million in grants will support three projects in underserved communities in the Twin Cities and Rochester

WASHINGTON – US Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (both D-MN) announced significant new federal funding to support access and outdoor recreation in Minnesota following Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s visit to the state. New projects include outdoor recreation additions at the North End Community Center in St. Paul, improvements at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester, and an expansion and renovation of Willard Park in Minneapolis.

“With our state’s lakes, parks and hiking trails, getting outside is central to the Minnesotans’ way of life.” said Sen. Klobuchar. “By expanding green spaces and creating new outdoor recreation opportunities, this funding will help ensure all Minnesotans, regardless of their zip code, can enjoy the benefits of nature.”

“Everyone should have access to outdoor spaces and recreational opportunities,” said Sen. Smith. “However, these spaces are too often unequally distributed between affluent and underserved communities. These new projects will help create more green spaces in economically depressed areas where our children can play and families can enjoy the great outdoors.”

$8.7 million in grant funding is available through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program. The ORLP program enables urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces, revitalize existing parks, and create connections between people and nature in economically underserved communities.

During her visit to Minnesota, Secretary Haaland met with Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tina Smith, Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and Representative Betty McCollum at the recently completed Midway Peace Park in St. Paul, which received 2020 ORLP funding.

More details on the Minnesota projects are below:

Rice (North End) Recreation Center (St. Paul)
North End Community Center Project – $2,409,625

  • The City of St. Paul will create outdoor recreation opportunities on the site of the Rice Recreation Center to address unmet community needs. The project will result in a multi-purpose sports field, sepak takraw courts, a new play area, more flexible green space, a stormwater management system, improved accessibility, lighting, facilities, planting, landscaping, on-site parking and more shade options.

Soldiers Field Park (Rochester)
Soldier Field Park Improvement – $5,000,000

  • The City of Rochester will expand recreational activities at Soldiers Field Park, located near Rochester’s Downtown, Historic Southwest and Slattery Park neighborhoods. The park serves a diverse, economically distressed population with a poverty rate of nearly 40 percent. The project will add recreational facilities prioritized by local communities, including a lap pool, plunge pool, toddler pool, splash pad and bathhouses/changing facilities, and will provide an inclusive playground, trail links and picnic area.

Willard Park (Minneapolis)
Secure public parkland and invest in recreation: Willard Park – $1,300,000

  • The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board will expand and renovate Willard Park. The derelict park currently serves a local community with a 31 percent poverty rate. Planned renovations and new installations include a recreation area, play area, basketball courts, pathways, skate/BMX spot elements, athletic field facilities, an outdoor common area, and a restroom/storage building.