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City wants input on Central Park plans

Reshaping downtown Rosemount's Central Park could mean reshaping at least a little bit of downtown Rosemount.

When the city of Rosemount adopted its downtown framework in 2004 the plan included a redesigned, possibly expanded park that could serve as a true central gathering place for Rosemount residents. Now, with one downtown redevelopment project nearing completion and another about to get under way the city is taking a closer look at what that park of the future might look like.

The city will hold an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. March 25 at city hall to introduce five visions of Central Park's future. The plans range from simple improvements to the existing equipment in the park to expansions that could displace one or two downtown businesses. There are expanded gardens and gazebos. There's even a fountain.

All of the plans focus on improving the park's value as a gathering place. Central Park is one of the main locations for Rosemount's annual Leprechaun Days celebration, so the park needs to be a comfortable place for people to gather. The emphasis is on giving people a place to sit and relax, not a place, necessarily, to run and play.

"We're not looking to turn it into a ballfield," senior planner Eric Zweber said. "We're not looking to have real high activity there. With the traffic on those roads we think it's too close and too confined to have that level of activity."

Central Park isn't likely to undergo any dramatic changes anytime soon. The city doesn't have money available right now for anything more than basic upgrades. But Zweber said the city wants to be ready when it has the money to spend.

"There are improvements we can do to the park with the land we own and that probably will be done in the short term," Zweber said. "The other plans are much more long term and are probably going to present themselves when things happen. We just want to make sure we have a plan in place."

For at least the immediate future, those plans don't involve much more than minor upgrades to what's already at the park. The most basic of the plans adds a paved bike trail that will ultimately serve as the head of a system that connects downtown with the Mississippi River.

More involved plans call for the removal of Polfus Implement, located on 145th Street, and the BP gas station located at the corner of Highway 3 and 145th. Those plans add in fountains, gazebos, expanded gardens and even a reshaped entrance to the parking lot from 145th Street.

Those changes are a long way off, but Zweber said the city has already started working with the business owners. He said the reaction so far has been mixed.

"They're successful where they are and they intend to stay there," Zweber said. "They certainly aren't looking to be forced out, but at the same time they understand what the city's value is in this land."

Zweber said city would work with the businesses to help them relocate within Rosemount if they reach a point where they're interested in using the properties. And he pointed out that by the time the city is ready to act on some of its more elaborate plans one or both businesses might be ready to move.

Zweber said the city does not have any plans to use eminent domain to acquire either of the properties.

Zweber said the city will apply for grants to help pay for the proposed improvements.