ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — As more people head outside because of the pandemic, parks have never been more valuable in the Med City.
However, should $2 million go towards them if it will cost homeowners more?

Katrina Pulham and Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick are both running for the Ward 4 City Council seat and use the parks in their neighborhoods. The potential increase of around $33 a year for homeowners has one candidate warning now is not the time for park improvements.

Yet the candidates can agree on a few things.

“I think the parks need help.,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think the parks need community input for what this referendum is going to do.”

“I don’t feel like we’ve touched the surface of what we could have for our park system here,” Pulham agreed.

Some people feel this year is not the right time.

“My problem with this referendum is that this is going to raise our property taxes,” Pulham said. “Every time I turn around, I’m getting a different answer on how these funds are going to be spent.”

Both candidates agree the wording on the referendum’s plan for the parks is too vague and both have ideas on what to change.

“We actually need a huge continuous greenspace for conservation and ecological reasons,” Kirkpatrick said. “It would start at 14th Street North and wind its way down to Bear Creek.”

Kirkpatrick is for the proposed addition of splash pads but agrees with Pulham to keep the current pools at Silver Lake and Soldiers Field.

“I’m against the permanent removal of Silver Lake Pool. I grew up using that pool and it’s intact,” Kirkpatrick said.

“We need our pools too,” Pulham insists. “That’s something we should be improving on and adding to, not getting rid of.”‘

Kirkpatrick believes another park would be a valuable asset the city could improve on.

“We’ve got an incredible basketball court over at MLK Park,” she said. “We could really use an electric light over there. We’re keeping the kids that play basketball over there off the streets. We have almost a thousand people using that basketball court every week.”

Pulham says while some parks are a valuable community resource, but she believes others are less useful.

“We get all of these tiny little parks all over the place that are incredibly hard to maintain,” the small business owner said. “They’re all over the city and most aren’t used. As a mom, I drive over to Three Links Park because that’s the ‘cool park’ to my kids.”

Kirkpatrick believes the community input would help the referendum add things Rochester residents would enjoy such as hockey rinks, basketball courts on schoolyards and more softball and baseball fields.