Back to the May-Jun 2019 issue

Map Helps Raise Awareness of a City Treasure


By Marty Doll And Carissa Larsen

One of the City of Burnsville’s defining characteristics is the vast number of parks for a community its size. Burnsville is home to 76 parks spanning more than 1,750 acres. With a population of around 61,000, nearly every resident is within short walking distance of a park.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows this! For those who do, they may not be fully aware of the many amenities offered at each park.

New way to promote parks

As part of a campaign to promote city parks, staff from Burnsville’s Communications and Recreation departments created a “Pocket Parks Map” to help residents and visitors become more familiar with park locations and their offerings.

While of course, all of this information is available in an easy-to-peruse format on the city’s website (, the idea was for this piece to be kept in a pocket, glove box, cycling bag, or running pouch for those who are out exploring the park system. The map folds down to 3.5 by 4.5 inches, and opens to 12 by 18 inches to give a large view of the city’s park system.

Once unfolded, the map itself is found on the front side. In addition to identifying all 76 city parks, it also highlights schools and playground areas, walking and hiking trails, preservation and natural areas, and major roadways and connections throughout Burnsville. On the back of the map, a chart indicates which amenities can be found at each city park—ranging from fields, rinks, and courts to picnic shelters, trails, and even Wi-Fi.

Good reviews

The map was introduced in 2017 at the grand opening ceremony for Burnsville’s newest park and trail—Minnesota Riverfront Park and the Minnesota River Greenway. That particular park features a regional greenway trail, and the event was heavily attended by bicyclists and trail enthusiasts. Many people commented that they liked the map’s size— and that the paper was flexible enough to refold but thick enough so that it doesn’t rip easily.

Since its launch, the city has distributed nearly 3,000 pocket maps to residents and visitors. At a printing cost of only 55 cents per map, it’s extremely affordable to reproduce. People often come into Burnsville City Hall seeking a parks map, and are happy to find something professionally printed rather than something straight off the office printer.

Engaging and tangible

In an environment in which it is easy to become oversaturated with online information and marketing, the city has found that print still has a purpose. In addition to being engaging and tangible—something you can actually hold in your hands—a printed piece can also help reach a specific target market when used strategically.

In this case, the city was trying to build awareness of Burnsville’s park and trail system, starting with those who are already prone to explore the outdoors. By providing them with a printed map that is both useful and efficient—the hope is that they’ll explore even more of the parks and amenities offered throughout Burnsville and, of course, tell their friends.

Marty Doll is communications & community engagement director for the City of Burnsville. Contact: or (952) 895-4402. Carissa Larsen is communications specialist for the City of Burnsville. Contact: or (952) 895-4673.