'No-Mow' Trend Examined As Bloomington Parks Develops Master Plan

Jul 10, 2017

Two public input meetings to develop a new Bloomington parks master plan will take place at Miller Park on the city's west side.
Credit Emma Shores / WGLT

Leaving green grass to grow can save lots of green money.

As residents help develop a new master plan for Bloomington Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts, they will be asked to comment on a trend seen nationwide to save money: no-mow.

The city is holding three meetings this week to gather public input on a new master plan that will serve as the blueprint for parks and rec for the next 15 years. Bloomington Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Director Jay Tetzloff says not mowing can save a lot of money. 

"Land management is a priority for me," Tetzloff said during GLT's Sound Ideas. "For example, areas that are not used for golfers on the very edge of the perimeter, we're mowing that, we're treating that. There's opportunity to do a couple of things. One is do 'no-mow' where we don't mow it but two (or) three times a year. 

This island on West Oakland Avenue in Bloomington has been converted into a pollinator garden and is no longer mowed by the city.
Credit Bloomington Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts

Another option is to turn some currently mowed areas into pollinator gardens. If it's not being mowed at all, the city will save money, up to $85,000 for every 60 acres left to grow wild. 

"There are a lot of places we go to mow that it actually takes longer to take the mower off the trailer and hook it back up than it takes to actually mow it," said Tetzloff. "We have hundreds of places like that across the city."

If it's green and it's on city property, Tetzloff says the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts manages it, more than 1,000 acres across Bloomington. Tetzloff said pulling some sloping land from mowing rotation can also keep city employees safer. Taking park turf out of the equation is a trend occurring nationwide, but Tetzloff says Bloomington would push the envelope if a no-mow policy is enacted citywide. 

Tetzloff is encouraging public input on this trend, along with everything Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts does, with the exception of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, Miller Park Zoo, and the Constitution Trail, all of which have separate plans. 

The public input meetings are being facilitated by Colorado based firm GreenPlay. The city contracted with the consultant at a cost of $115,000 to develop the master plan. 

Public meetings include:

  • O'Neil Park Public Meeting - Tuesday, July 11, from 6-8 p.m. at Sheridan Elementary School. Formal presentation at 6:15 p.m. followed by an interactive workshop specific to O’Neil Park and Pool.
  • Master Plan Public Meeting - Thursday, July 13, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Miller Park Pavilion. Focuses on general parks, recreation facilities, programs, and services.
  • Recreation Center Public Meeting - Thursday, August 3, from 6-8 p.m. at Miller Park Pavilion. Focuses on questions specific to Lincoln Leisure Center and a new recreation facility.

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