16 Minneapolis parks identified to allow encampment, efforts ongoing for permit applications

Minneapolis Park Board and Recreation staff have identified 16 parks that either have permits or have been designated to accomodate temporary encampments.

Last month, the park board passed a resolution, restricting encampments to just to 20 Minneapolis parks and allowing a maximum 25 tents at those parks. Groups or nonprofits have to apply for a permit to allow a temporary encampment.

Efforts are ongoing to get people to apply for permits for other designated parks, as park board staff have run into obstacles partly due to "an external, highly organized campaign to discourage encampment organizers from applying for a permit," according to update released Friday.

As of Friday, the park board has issued four permits for temporary encampments at the following parks:

  • Lake Harriet - 11 tents allowed
  • Marshall Terrace Park - 15 tents allowed
  • The Mall - 15 tents allowed
  • William Berry Park - 25 tents allowed

After reviewing other parks, many which also have encampments, park staff designated 12 parks as capable of accomodating temporary encampments under the Park Board's resolution. Each of the following parks can hold up to 25 tents:

  • Annie Young Meadow (full)
  • Beltrami Park (full)
  • BF Nelson Park
  • Boom Island Park
  • Bryn Mawr Meadows Park
  • Franklin Steele Park
  • Lake Nokomis
  • Logan Park (full)
  • Lyndale Farmstead Park (full)
  • Minnehaha Regional Park (full)
  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park (full)
  • Riverside Park (full)

According to park board officials, crews will work to remove encampments that do not have a permit.

“This is a crisis, and this is an unprecedented role for our agency," said Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura. "We’re working with partners from the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County and are requesting more support and services at park encampments, but we also need the State of Minnesota to provide funding to the city and the county in support of short-term and long-term housing solutions.”

The Park Board adopted the resolution after a series of violent crimes occurred at the Powderhorn Park encampment, which a month ago had about 560 tents. Crews dismantled the east encampment and have since asked those living in the west encampment to vacate. Now, about 50 tents remain.

Bangoura says the resolution is related to the state's COVID-19 response. Under the governor's executive orders, local governments cannot close encampments unless there is alternate housing available or the encampment has become a danger to public safety.

“Residents think we have more options to remove people without shelter from our parks, but there are very few options currently available for where they can go," said Bangoura in a statement. "A shortage of affordable housing and available shelter space is a critical problem and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later."