Parks & Recreation

Essential Spaces: Duluth Parks, Recreation, Open Space & Trails Plan


Project Status: Planning

Project Overview:

The Parks and Recreation Division is embarking on the creation of Essential Spaces: Duluth Parks, Recreation, Open Space & Trails Plan, a city-wide park system Master Plan. Essential Spaces will serve as a long-range planning document to guide the City in the development and prioritization of programs, facilities, parks, and natural lands that serve the Duluth community now and into the future. After issuing a request for proposals, Design Workshop was selected as the lead consultant team to help us through this expected 12-month process. This planning effort will take a fresh look at the parks system and, with multiple opportunities for community outreach and engagement, will reflect the community’s values and guiding principles. 

Community Engagement

Inclusive community engagement is an important aspect of developing the Essential Spaces plan to understand the needs, values and anticipated future demands of Duluth’s residents and park system users. To date, our community engagement efforts include: 

Project Advisory Committee (PAC): The PAC is comprised of City staff and a range of citizen representatives who are guiding the plan process, alongside our consultant team.

Focus Group Meetings: In August 2021, Design Workshop led a series of focus group meetings with select stakeholders, including recreation partners, subject matter experts, and citizens representing a spectrum of experience and areas of interest.

Community Survey: In October/November 2021, a suvey on community needs and values as they relate to our parks system was conducted. The survey was open for a 5-week period and received over 1,900 responses. A summary of the survey results can be found below in the Important Documents section. 

Community Workshops: In April 2022, Design Workshop facilitated three interactive workshops, which provided an opportunity to gather community feedback on emerging plan themes, to clarify emerging community needs, and to identify specific park system needs. The community workshop presentation can be found below in the Important Documents section. 

Project Update:

The Essential Spaces: Duluth Park, Recreation, Open Space & Trails Plan was unanimously supported by the Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. A copy of the Plan and the Appendix can be found in the Important Documents section below.


The Essential Spaces Plan will go before City Council for consideration of adoption in October 2022.