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Dakota County seeks comment on plan for regional park

Dakota County is seeking comment on plans for a new 456-acre park to be built in Empire Township. Residents can view the plan at any Dakota County Library or at

Dakota County is looking for your opinion on a new 456-acre regional park in Empire Township. County staff will use those comments to create a final master plan for the project.

County staff will take comments through Jan. 12 on the draft master plan, and the county will hold an open house from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Dakota County Western Service Center in Apple Valley.

Mary Jackson, with the county's planning and analysis office, said so far comments have trickled in. She hopes as the chaos of the holidays dies down more people will find time to comment on the project.

Parks director Steven Sullivan said they would like to know how people feel about the draft plan and provide ideas for changes that can be made.

"We encourage people to go on our website and take a look at the plan," said Sullivan.

After the open comment period is over, county staff will make revisions to the plan. Sullivan hopes the county board will approve the plan sometime in February.

The planned regional park will be the newest addition to the Dakota County parks system. The park will be bounded by the Vermillion Highlands Modified Wildlife Management Area to the east and the Vermillion River Wildlife and Aquatic Management Areas to the south, according to the plan.

The master plan establishes the vision for the large park; identifies development, restoration, interagency collaboration and operational needs; and develops a cost estimate and phasing approach for park improvements, according to a release from the county.

According to the draft plan, which was prepared by Sanders Wacker Bergley Inc., the vision for the park is to provide a collaborative recreation and learning experience. The draft park plan includes a visitor center/trailhead, trails, picnicking, event and nature/water play areas, unique camping cabins, off-leash dog area, disc golf and a variety of gardens. The plan also addresses park management, budget and more.

Residents can view the draft plan at any of the Dakota County libraries including the Robert Trail Library in Rosemount or the Lebanon Hills Visitor Center. The plan is also available on the county's website at, search new regional park.

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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