Council ponders athletic needsConcerns from high school, RAAA have council looking at overall needs of the community
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
Rosemount’s athletic facilities are heavily used, and the city council has made an effort over the last few years to add more to take the burden off. Going forward, council members have goals to provide more, but balancing the needs of the various stakeholders can be tough.
That became clear as the council discussed at a Jan. 9 work session. Rosemount High School athletic director Mike Manning attended the meeting to voice concerns about the city’s plans to replace a field at Erickson Park with tennis courts.
The city has identified a need for more courts, but the Erickson Park field gets a lot of use from the high school programs because of its close proximity to the school. Manning said the soccer programs use the field in the fall and lacrosse programs use it in the spring.
“Erickson field is a really important field for us,” said Manning. He went on to say that the loss of the field would cripple the programs.
Manning provided some alternative options for where the city could construct new tennis courts including several options on land owned by Independent School District 196 or on the University of Minnesota’s UMore property.
Parks director Dan Schultz said the goal of the new tennis courts is to add a community amenity in an area where it would get used. He said staff feels like shoehorning the courts into a property or placing them away from where people live would not produce a useful amenity.
Schultz said the parks board has talked about putting tennis courts out on the Flint Hills property the city acquired several years ago but said the location of the courts doesn’t make sense at this time. Schultz said Erickson Park is central in the community and is easy to access.
Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan said the city needs to consider the overall needs of the community and not just the needs of a specific group. She added that the tennis courts will serve a large population whereas a green field like the one at Erickson only serves teams.
Rosemount Area Athletic Association representative Heidi Kraemer said the city’s current tennis courts fit their youth needs and she also expressed concerns over the loss of the Erickson field. RAAA uses the field for its youth soccer and lacrosse programs.
The city has plans to construct two green fields this year on the Flint Hills property. In 2008 city voters rejected a bond that would have built a new sports complex at property the city owns on Akron Avenue. Flint Hills Resources donated the property to the city. Over time, plans call for the 57-acres property to become an athletic complex with a variety of amenities. Flint Hills donated the property to the city in 2006.
Over the last several years, the city has added several green fields, including at Dakota County Technical College. There are plans for more, but Manning said those don’t serve the high school because students can’t get to them on foot.
The city council has not formally approved anything. Mayor Bill Droste said the council will discuss athletic needs as part of its goal setting sessions later this month.