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Viewpoint: Community feedback sought on new rec facilities

Logan Martin

The City of Rosemount is moving forward on a project that will meet long-time goals of the community and keep us at the forefront as one of the best places to live. As always, we need the citizens' views to make it work.

This fall, Rosemount City Council hired 292 Design Group to study the needs for new indoor recreational facilities. The company is based in Minnesota and has long experience here and in other states with the careful planning needed for successful facilities.

That firm in turn will work with another consultant, Ballard King & Associates, that specializes in the financial analysis that will allow City Council to make important choices for the facility. One is whether it should be owned by the city or operated by outside groups like the YMCA. The firms will also look at what land is available and what staffing would be required.

For all their expertise, those firms need plenty of input from the people who would use the facility. They plan in-depth interviews soon with stakeholders. Those include athletic groups that serve youth and other groups that serve citizens of different ages.

For many residents, one of the first opportunities to get involved will be an open house to explain the process and collect early opinions. It's set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, in the Community Center.

We need to hear many voices to make sure this project is the best it can be. City Council has the perspective that a need is there. One piece of evidence was in our latest community survey. We asked a sample of residents more than 140 questions on everything from the quality of life in Rosemount to the levels of traffic and air quality. One of the questions was whether respondents would support higher property taxes for a new recreation facility. Nearly three-quarters said they'd support it.

That's an encouraging result for those who want new facilities. But our planning needs to fill in the specifics of the features residents want and how much they would cost. A big challenge is to decide which needs can be met while respecting the taxpayers' money. As part of the process, the consultants may conduct a detailed survey to determine the desire of the public for recreational facilities — and the tradeoffs that may need to be made — if a voter referendum is required to fund facilities.

All these efforts will lead toward completion of the research in the spring, to be followed by City Council's decision on how to proceed. That will be a public process, and residents will have many opportunities to share their views.

Reaching the best solution begins with the open house on the recreation study Nov. 19. Please join us as we plan for a greater Rosemount.