Plans for athletic complex move forward despite concernsConcerns about pollution delayed action on a planned complex on U of M land
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
The Rosemount Planning Commission voted Tuesday to approve a site plan for a city athletic complex on the UMore property. The commission had delayed the conversation because of concerns about pollution on the property.
The delay came about when planning commissioners brought concerns about soil pollution to their March 27 meeting. The concerns were prompted by the discovery of asbestos in soil on Dakota County Technical College’s property. The college found the carcinogenic material while grading for new athletic fields on its east end. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is working with the college to discard the soil. Calls to the college have not been returned.
Before moving ahead with the city’s project commissioners wanted to make sure the soil at its athletic complex was not contaminated as well.
The University of Minnesota donated 28 acres off of Akron Avenue to the city for an athletic complex. Plans call for four softball/little league fields and one large baseball field for high school and college-age players. Additionally, the complex will include a concessions/restroom/ storage building.
The complex will be built in phases. Grading for phase one will begin this spring and will include two little league/softball fields and an 84-stall parking lot. The fields should be playable by next summer.
Before the university pre-dedicated the land to the city, it conducted several environmental investigations. City planner Eric Zweber said the investigations came up clean.
After a request for clarification from commissioner Wade Miller, staff consulted Barr Engineering, who completed the investigations. Staff provided the planning commission with the results from the various investigations.
Zweber said there were six building foundation on the property and prior to demolition they were investigated for asbestos and lead. Neither was found.
Company representative Jim Eidem said at the time there was no reason to suspect asbestos on the property. Eidem said asbestos was associated with the Gopher Ordnance Works building materials and there were no such buildings on or adjacent to the field site. That is why the company did not find it necessary to test for asbestos at the time.
A Minnesota Department of Health-certified asbestos inspector was present during the soil investigation and did not identify any when collecting soil samples or digging test trenches.
During the meeting Miller asked staff if the asbestos could have spread to the ball field site from the DCTC. Eidem said it was possible.
In a letter to the council, attorney Charlie LeFevere told the commission that during the site plan review the commission can only consider whether the project meets the city’s standards.
Miller moved and Valerie Ege seconded the motion to recommend the site plan. In a second motion by Miller, the planning commission also recommended the council do additional testing on the site for asbestos.
Miller said he just wanted to give the community some assurance the site was safe.
If the council wished to test, Eidem recommended it be done after the DCTC pile is removed.
After the site plan had been recommended, commissioner Bruno DiNella asked staff for assurance that the site is safe for the city’s children to play on.
Community development director Kim Lindquist answered that the city council had reviewed the information and determined that the property was safe when it took ownership.