Beginning March 13, 2020, all in-person programs and services offered by Parks and Recreation and the Nature Center were closed due to COVID-19 concerns. Since that time, the City continued to evaluate its COVID-19 response and forecast possible budgetary impacts in 2020 and 2021. As the pandemic continued, the City saw significant revenue loss in direct programming fees in these areas. In early June 2020, the decision was made to close the Nature Center and Parks and Recreation programs, which resulted in lay-offs of staff in those areas. With increasing uncertainty about impacts of COVID-19 and a return to “normal” conditions, the future of these services is unknown.
At the June 22, 2020 City Council Meeting, direction was given to staff to develop two Task Forces of residents, stakeholders, and other parties to help develop a new model of service for both the Nature Center and for Parks and Recreation in the City of Maplewood.
Among the goals of the task forces will be to review existing programming, services, and operating budgets, review possible programming alternatives, and identify possible funding partners to help pay for amenities with a regional focus and/or draw. In addition, the Council identified the inclusion of communities of color and other historically underrepresented population for the task forces. Lastly, the Council identified the goal for broad public input, including the use of surveys or other feedback tools.