Liz Wielenski

1. Do you navigate Minneapolis by bicycle, walking, or in a wheelchair? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often? How do you understand the experiences of residents who don't have the option to drive, particularly children, seniors, and people with a disability?

Yes, I am a walker and an occasional recreational bicyclist. I often cycle with my autistic teenager who rides a recumbent trike, which allows me to see firsthand how cyclists not at eye level can be easily missed by people driving. At times in my life including recently, I have lived without access or with limited access to a car. I understand that limited transportation options may cause people to not attend events or to spend an inordinate amount of time on transportation.

2. Describe any past work or accomplishments that you have been involved with around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.

As the staff person for the Columbia Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) I worked with the City of Minneapolis to build a sidewalk connection from St Anthony Parkway along Main Street to Hi-View Park. I am currently raising the money to complete the section of missing sidewalk at Hi-View to complete the connection.

As the park board commissioner for the eastside I completed the trail connection from Boom Island north to the BNSF bridge and have been acquiring land to make the connections for both North and Northeast to the city limits. I have also worked with the City of Minneapolis to identify where the bridge should go over the railroad tracks in Prospect Park so we can start accessing funding for the Grand Rounds Missing Link, part of our regional park system.

As Park Board Commissioner, I have supported all requests for trail construction including trail/path replacement. I’ve also supported bringing the Nice Ride bike-sharing network into or adjacent to our parks.

3. What is your view on people using the trails within the park system for commuting to work, taking children to school, running errands, etc - as opposed to using the park system for exclusively recreational purposes?

My view is that I am happy to see folks integrate a visit to the park during their commutes and while running errands. Thanks to long ago planning, Minneapolis residents are blessed with opportunities to spend time in a natural or open space environments while living our daily routines.

4. What strategies, if any, will you advance to promote racial equity in Park Board programming?

If re-elected, one of my goals is to ensure that the equity requirements of the new Neighborhood Park Plan are upheld. Under this new plan, sometimes called NPP20, the City will provide an additional $11 million a year for 20 years for capital projects and increased maintenance at neighborhood parks.

I’ve been an advocate for streamlining the fee waiver program away from today’s paperwork requirements (form, proofs of income) to a show-n-tell method (e.g. showing a SNAP card, school lunch award letter, Medicaid card, etc.) to make it easier and more dignified for low-income people who need a fee waiver to participate in MPRB programs. Recreation planning, a process called RecQuest, is underway and I want to see fee waivers incorporated into the plan.

The restoration of Hall’s Island, in the Mississippi River north of the Plymouth avenue bridge, is a project I’ve worked on for years. I want to see this through. When completed, a swimming beach will be built on the mainland across from the island. The eastside will have a free place to swim just like the other parts of the City!

5. Currently, the Park Board maintains only some trails and sidewalks in the winter time for walking and biking. What changes, if any, would you like to see to winter maintenance of sidewalks and trails in parks?

I’m open to re-evaluating the plowing schedule in terms of need and use. More immediately, recommendations for eliminating any winter-time gaps or congested areas at the regional park trails or providing key winter connections at neighborhood parks are welcome now for the Commissioners have just started working on the 2018 budget.

6. Park Board trails have a 10 mile-per-hour speed limit for people biking. The Board discussed potentially eliminating the speed limit in 2015, but decided against a change. What is your position on the bicycle speed limit on Park Board trails?

I voted to keep the 10 mile-per-hour speed limit because our remarkably complex system of trail use succeeds in keeping park users safe. In much of the system, walkers must cross the bicycle path to reach the walking paths and other amenities. The bicycle paths serve bicyclists of all ages and abilities plus skateboarders and in-line skaters. The walking paths serve joggers and dog walkers as well as pedestrians. At many locations in the system, especially in neighborhood parks, all these user groups share a single path. The trail sharing system works largely on the honor system or with park users resolving conflicts. With 22.7 million visits in 2016, no serious trail accidents or injuries were reported.

7. What do you hope to accomplish to make Minneapolis parks and trails better for bicycling and walking by the end of your term, if you are elected?

I plan to continue the march northward on both sides of the river to complete our trail grid, which will involve both negotiating with the City at the Upper Harbor Terminal and further land acquisition. I will also champion completing the missing piece from the Stone Arch Bridge to the #9 Bridge and the Dinkytown Greenway. Both of these initiatives will involve negotiations with the railroads. I will continue to move the Grand Rounds Missing Link through the Met Council and State Metro Parks bonding process as well as getting an increase to the maintenance budget for the already completed portions of our trail system so they are kept in better condition. And finally I hope to keep the funding for the NPP20 plan in place so that we will have the funds to replace all of the necessary curb replacements for ADA compliance at both our trail and sidewalk boundaries.

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