In 2007, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Deputy Mayor Ann Mulholland, and Parks and Recreation Director Bob Bierscheid came to the realization that the City of Saint Paul alone was not able to provide adequate funding for creative and expansive park enhancements.
For Saint Paul to sustain one of America’s most impressive and expansive park systems, these community leaders came to the conclusion that rather than solely depending on public support, a partnership with private funders was essential to productive growth and service to the community.
At the request of our City leaders in late 2007, The McKnight Foundation contributed invaluable start-up funding to determine the most feasible model for creating and sustaining a new non-profit organization to generate support from private individuals, corporations, and foundations to provide for new park enhancements, programs and facilities.
In January 2008, the first Conservancy board of directors was formed after feasibility study interviews were conducted with community organizations, representatives of the philanthropic community, public officials, and others with a special interest in the conservation and growth of Saint Paul’s parks and recreation programs. Upon reviewing the results of the feasibility study interviews, the Conservancy board established an initial mission statement and general direction for the organization’s development. The mission embraced by that board was to work in concert with other community groups to raise funds that enhance and expand parks and recreation opportunities throughout the community.
The Conservancy board also adopted the 2008 Parks and Recreation Plan as a guide to selecting projects and programs to support. That Vision Plan calls for new ventures that promote active lifestyles, vibrant places, and a vital environment.
Effective May 8, 2008 the Conservancy was incorporated as a Minnesota, tax-exempt, 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.