Attention all off-road riders, we need your support!
As a result of a budget crisis, the MPRB has included a new off-road cycling fee in their 2008 budget. The fee would be $25 for residents of Minneapolis, and $35 for non-residents, no fee for children under age 18. Negotiations with the Superintendent last night were not successful in getting this fee proposal dropped, and the bottom line is the the MPRB wants to generate $7500 from off-road cycling fees at Wirth Park in 2008. We think that this kind of fee sets a bad example and will lead to fees being charged at other trails. It is also extremely unfair to the volunteers and MORC members who have put their time and money into developing the Wirth trails for the last five years.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
The MPRB budget is not final. It will be presented to the Minneapolis City Council at a public meeting scheduled for 5:05 TONIGHT (details below). The MPRB's position per the Superintendent is that the funding gap was caused in large part by the City refusing to allocate sufficient funds to the MPRB to cover increased expenses. The MPRB's strategy of responding by increasing user fees dramatically across the board may be part of an ongoing and longstanding disagreement between the MPRB and the City over the MPRB's spending habits and management. The largest possible source of possible additional revenue for the MPRB is the City. It is still very possible that a concerted effort by Minneapolis residents to contact their Council Members about this off-road cycling fee, and appear to speak at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, might lead to increases in the MPRB budget that could eliminate the proposed off-road permit fee. YES PEOPLE THIS IS CALLED POLITICS. But the goal of trying to keep trails free for everybody is worth getting involved.
Again, the ramifications of an off-road cycling fee at Wirth Park extend far beyond this one trail. The issue has come up at other trails, and land managers may see a trail fee at Wirth as an opportunity for them to generate some revenue for their own purposes. We might soon see permit fees at other local trails, and "just riding someplace else" might not be an option. It's in everybody's interest to at least try and nip this in the bud, even if it means rolling around in the mud with the politicians.
I should point out that the Park Board is an elected body that will respond to its constituency. Several Commissioners and MPRB staffers have expressed their continued support for off-road cycling and appreciate what we have accomplished. They do not want a permit fee if there is any way to avoid it. We have some friends that do not like this situation any more than we do. That gives me hope.
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. We need as many Minneapolis residents and non-resident trail users as possible to call Council members today and let them know that the MPRB only needs $7500 to avoid having to institute an off-road cycling permit at the new and as yet uncompleted Wirth Park bike trail. The MPRB needs more money, and they need to drop the proposed off-road permit fee. The fee will not generate much net revenue, it will damage the relationship with the volunteers who have contributed 5000 hours of labor and thousands of dollars in tools and materials to build and maintain the trails. These trails were built with the intention and understanding that they would be free to the public. They need to stay that way. Tell them nicely - use your own words - but tell them what you think about an off-road cycling fee.
2. Same message by email. Fill their inboxes until they say "no mas."
3. We need bodies and bike helmets at the City Council meeting, and several people who are willing to sign up and speak to the Council about the reasons that our group is different (we do not get any funds from the MPRB to support the trails, we do it all ourselves!) and should not have to pay a permit fee in 2008 or ever.
Truth in Taxation Public Hearing is at 5:05 p.m., Tuesday, December 11, at the City of Minneapolis Council Chambers, Room 317 City Hall, Minneapolis. The MPRB 2008 budget will be adopted at a second meeting starting at 5:05 p.m., Wednesday, December 12 also at City of Minneapolis Council Chambers. You should expect these meeting to last for several hours, so bring some water and snacks for the long haul. There may be a lot of other groups in attendance as well because the MPRB budget hits a lot of people and groups with big fee increases. If you can't make it, please call and/or email!
CITY COUNCIL CONTACT INFO:
Paul Ostrow · email@example.com
Cam Gordon ·firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Hofstede ·email@example.com
Barbara Johnson ·firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Samuels · email@example.com
Robert Lilligren · firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Goodman · http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/contact/email-form-goodman.asp
Elizabeth Glidden · http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/contact/email-form-glidden.asp
Gary Schiff ·http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/contact/email-form-schiff.asp
Ralph Remington · email@example.com
Scott Benson ·firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandy Colvin Roy · http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/contact/email-form-roy.asp
Betsy Hodges · http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/contact/email-form-hodges.asp
Thank you for your support!