LOSS OF GREEN SPACE
Hollydale is the last large parcel of green space in the city. Its 130 acres of grass, trees, rolling hills, and abundant wildlife personify the description of the rolling and wooded terrain that city planners purport to protect.
Yet open space acreage is in severe decline. Parks, Open Space, Agricultural, and Vacant Land acreage declined by almost 29% between the 2006 and 2016. Residential land use increased by 10%. Building seems to take place everywhere, and many of the city's "parks" seem to be man made play fields with manufactured equipment and chain link fences. Even the Greenway Trailhead is planned to include parking lots and corporate venues.
Development of Hollydale would reduce Park and Open Space acreage by another 130 acres, or by 5%.
The City's 2040 Comprehensive Plan cites a Land Use policy to "Apply development standards that protect the environment and advance community values, while allowing sound use of private property." The community values here are definitely to protect this environment. As more green space gets replaced by asphalt and Hardie Board, this proposal - residential development of the last remaining large parcel of green space - is no longer a sound use. It's sadly shortsighted.
HOLLYDALE HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART OF THE PLAN
In noting Plymouth residents' desire for green space, Mayor Wosje has pointed out that the City Council, as part of the 2020 plan, made the decision to pursue the northwest Greenway as green space for Plymouth. Voters approved a $9 million referendum for it in 2006.
It's important to note that at the time, Hollydale was also considered part of the parks and recreation and open space plan. In one of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan review meetings, the Parks & Rec Director said this:
"The plan calls for the City to take positive active steps on the preservation of an 18—hole golf course within the City. A long term plan for the acquisition and development of open space was also added to the Comprehensive Plan. The single most interesting new feature in the plan is the Northwest Greenway. This is a series of open spaces linked together to provide a looping trail system in northwest Plymouth that interconnects with the county's regional trails."
The Greenway was part of the plan, but it wasn't the only plan. In addition, the comprehensive plan update for 2020 did not contemplate fully building out north west Plymouth.
Plan for the Northwest Greenway Trailhead
The land use plan at the time was to build out only 41% of vacant residential lands out of Northwest Plymouth, and the intention was to reach 2020 with 1,800 acres of rural property, and only 28,705 households.
By 2018, most of that rural property was pegged for new homes, and population was over target.
So when the Greenway idea was conceived, the city's approach was a slower growth rate and a smaller scale. Half of NW Plymouth was still planned for rural residential. The Greenway was designed as a trail, and part of a park system that included golf courses. A survey had been done that showed golf as the most popular activity in Plymouth next to walking. So the plan made sense. It still does.
PLYMOUTH COMPARED TO OTHER CITIES
Plymouth has fewer acres of green space per person than comparable cities. A lower percentage of our city's acreage is devoted to green space, and the comparable gap relative to median income is higher. Met Council data.