"Our Legacy, Our Future": Richfield proposes major upgrades to community facilities with $80 million investment plan

 Richfield, Minn. (June 20, 2024) Earlier this week, the city of Richfield launched a public information effort, anchored by a new website, to inform residents about a proposed $80 million investment plan. The plan, titled Our Legacy, Our Future, outlines a vision to upgrade the Richfield Community Center, Wood Lake Nature Center, and Veterans Park.

The work is the result of years of planning, research and community engagement to learn about the needs of the community and the status of the city’s current facilities. Residents expressed a desire for improved amenities, programming and more spaces to gather, learn, volunteer and be active in Richfield.

“Richfield is home to a vibrant community and welcomes countless visitors to our parks and recreational facilities,” said Richfield’s mayor, Mary Supple. “To meet the growing needs of our community and invest in our quality of life, we need to make critical investments in our parks and recreation system.”

To turn this community vision into reality, residents will be asked to decide whether to support a local half-percent sales tax to help finance the plan. The city created the OurLegacyOurFuture.org website to provide detailed information about the proposed plan, its cost and tax impact, answers to frequently asked questions and more. The website also features a Connect Form that residents can use to ask questions or provide feedback to the city about the three projects.

The three projects at the heart of the plan are beloved facilities that are aging and in critical need of upgrades and repairs. If approved by voters, the city will move forward with the following projects:

  • Build a new Community Center. The city is proposing a new facility to replace the Richfield Community Center in Augsburg Park. The new Community Center will be designed to support additional recreational and sport activities and provide more community programs and gathering spaces for residents of all ages.
  • Replace the deteriorating Wood Lake Nature Center building. A new, accessible and modern educational facility would replace the current nature center building to support residents and visitors who want to gather and reconnect with nature for many years to come.
  • Repairs and updates at Veterans Park. Proposed improvements and repairs at Richfield’s most visited park would include a new pool liner, upgrades to the trails and pavilion, repairs and upgrades at the ice arena and additional maintenance throughout the park to keep it safe and operational for the coming decades.

To help pay for these investments, Richfield voters will consider the half-percent local sales tax to provide $65 million for the three projects over a 20-year period. The city has already secured $15 million in federal and state funds to support the plan.

“Residents were clear that they wanted an investment plan that maximized the value of this investment while being mindful of the tax impact,” said City Manager Katie Rodriguez. By using state and federal funds and nonresident contributions from a local sales tax, Richfield residents would only be responsible for roughly one-third of the total project costs.”

The city council is proposing a local sales tax because it would allow the cost of the investment to be shared among residents and nonresidents who purchase goods and services in the city. According to an analysis by the University of Minnesota, 55% of the sales tax would be paid by nonresidents.

“We know that many visitors come into Richfield because of these amazing amenities,” acknowledged Karl Huemiller, Recreation Services Director. “By using a sales tax to fund this plan, we are ensuring that the people who use these facilities – residents and nonresidents alike – are sharing the cost of the investment.”

If approved by voters in November, the half-percent sales tax would apply to the same qualifying purchases as the general state sales tax. It would amount to an additional one cent for every $2 spent. If approved, the average Richfield resident would pay roughly $3.92 a month in local sales tax, according to the University of Minnesota analysis. If the city used a property tax increase to fund these projects, the owner of an average-valued home in Richfield would pay roughly an additional $250 per year in property taxes ($20.83 per month).

Dozens of cities and counties across the state, including all cities immediately surrounding Richfield, are using local sales taxes to invest in public projects. Richfield residents shopping in Edina and Bloomington contribute to those cities’ projects when they pay a local sales tax.

“This is an important community decision that will impact the future of the city’s parks and recreation system for many years to come,” reflected Supple. “We encourage all residents to visit the new website to learn more about these projects, share your ideas and ask additional questions.”

More information on the plan, cost, Frequently Asked Questions and more can be found at: www.OurLegacyOurFuture.org