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City gets land for a new park

The University of Minnesota dedicated 27 acres of land to the city of Rosemount Feb. 12 as a future recreation hub for the city. The land, which abuts Dakota County Technical College, will be used to build ball fields for youth sports in Rosemount.

Rosemount has been working with the university for several years on the project. Two years ago the university hired a consultant to create a concept plan for the parcel and now that plan will start to take shape.

The land, which is off of Akron Avenue, will be acquired by the city through a parks pre-dedication agreement. The university, in return, will get park dedication credits to use during the development of UMore Park.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said the deal is good for both the city and the university.

"It allows us to get going on some ball fields and I think the university wants to have a park out there when development starts," said Johnson. "It will also show some visible progress on the site."

UMore Park is a 5,000 acres parcel of land that straddles the border of Rosemount and Empire Township. The university plans to build a large sustainable community on the property that will integrate education, natural resources, homes and businesses.

Parks and recreation director Dan Schultz said over the course of the development of the 5,000 acres the university will be required to dedicate hundreds of acres to parks. He called this project a good start.

The city will build a large baseball field for high school and college baseball, and four smaller fields for softball and baseball on the site. As time goes on the city hopes to add amenities such as a concessions area and batting cages.

The city, which has a need for additional ball fields, has been looking for an opportunity to partner to build new fields. Schultz said more 4,000 youth participate in athletics including soccer, baseball, fastpitch softball and lacrosse. He said the city receives more and more requests for facilities every year.

"We've not been able to meet youth program needs," said Schultz.

Schultz said the city hopes to start at least grading the property this year and possibly have fields playable by 2013.

Funding is the biggest obstacle. Johnson said the city has received at $200,000 in kind donation from SKB Environmental to do grading work. That should come close to covering the cost of the prep work.

For other costs such as engineering and construction, the city has set aside $800,000 from the park improvement fund to get the project going. At its Feb. 15 meeting the council approved engineering cost to get the project started.

With all the bells and whistles the project could cost up to $4 million. Schultz said the work will be done in phases. That price tag includes a parking lot, lights, batting cages, concessions and a storage garage. For future phases the city hopes to get grants to help with the costs.

For now, though, the immediate goal is to get some playable ball fields built and the amenities such as concessions can come later.

In 2008 city voters rejected a bond that would have built a new sports complex on 56 acres of property the city owns further north on Akron Avenue. Flint Hills Resources donated the land to the city for the purpose of an athletic complex. The property remains vacant at this time.

Schultz said partnerships and donations have made the UMore land more attractive to develop at this time. However, he said the city does plan to go back to the Akron Avenue property at some point in the future.

The city of Rosemount will turn a 27-acre park

dedication into ballfields

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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