LE appoints youngest Park Commission member

Jacob Silvernale

Jacob Silvernale, 15, appointed July 2

15-year-old Jacob Silvernale can add a position to his resume that most people may assume is meant for someone much older: park commissioner.

But his youth isn’t a hindrance-Silvernale has grand plans for Lake Elmo’s park system.

His interest in the city’s park commission was sparked when commissioners were discussing the possible construction of a park in his housing development between Lake Elmo and Manning avenues in the northeast corner of the city.

“We were trying to get a park in my neighborhood, so I went to a couple of meetings, where I heard that they had an opening,” Silvernale explained. “I applied for the position, and interviewed before the city council.”

Despite the pressure of being publicly grilled, Silvernale says he wasn’t nervous. At the July 2 city council meeting, Silvernale was appointed to be the second alternate for the park commission.

The rising sophomore at St. Croix Preparatory Academy in Stillwater says he is most interested in park upkeep as well as creating parks and programs that appeal to the adolescent age group.

“I want to be able to maintain our parks and make sure they look nice - that’s something that all parks should be - looking nice. I also would like to see the parks appeal to younger people, like more around my age,” he said.

He also said he is interested in getting more involved with politics, especially as he gets older.

Critical juncture in park planning

Shane Weis, the commission’s chair, says he is glad to have Silvernale on board.

“I think it’s great. He’ll bring a new perspective,” Weis said. “It’s nice to see someone his age want to get involved in community government, and I hope it encourages other people to come to our meetings and voice their opinions.”

Silvernale says Carriage Station Park, located at Marquess Trail North and Stillwater Boulevard North, is his favorite city park because it is close to his home. His favorite outdoor activities are skiing, on both snow and water, and wakeboarding.

Silvernale joins the commission at a critical point in the city’s development. Lake Elmo currently has nearly $1 million in parkland dedication funds to allocate. These funds come to the park commission as Lake Elmo is developed. Housing developers pay a fee, which is then dedicated to creating and maintaining parks and open spaces within city limits.

The city could see much more parkland dedication money in the future as it adds more residential units.

In June, the city mailed out a survey to gauge residents’ utilization of city parks, open spaces and lakes. The results of the survey will guide the park commission as it develops its capital improvement plan.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7814.

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