The potential for a new Rosemount Recreation Center breaking ground is more likely than in past years, according to Rosemount Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Michael Eliason.
As a longtime commissioner, Eliason has served since 1992. He said he witnessed two failed attempts to build a recreational facility after voters did not give their blessing via a referendum.
The conceptual recreational center plan calls for the construction of an indoor pool, party room, basketball court, locker rooms, indoor courts, an onsite child watch service, an elevated walking and running track and an indoor playground. After a final plan is reviewed, it is likely other pieces could be added.
This time Eliason thinks the draft plan has a solid foundation. If the project succeeds, it will be due to how city leadership, staff, partners and the commission are taking time to listen to residents and build needed partnerships.
"The difference this time is that there has been a lot more of a study done with more residents' input, multiple meetings with residents to find out what it is they would like in a rec center and what amenities they would like," Eliason said.
"This time around we have a lot more younger families in the city of Rosemount with all the building to the east side of the city and there are a lot of young families who want these kind of amenities and who have said they want this kind of a facility," he added.
There has been a larger turnout within the stakeholder groups such as the Rosemount Area Hockey Association.
"We have been able to hear more groups and the last time around I don't think we met with RAHA and I don't think we were talking an ice arenas, and I think we have better lines of communication with all these people and we are getting out there and having meetings with these groups and having conversations with presidents of the associations and it really helps," Eliason said.
The commission learned from not having all the information from the community representatives. he added.
"The other part of the question is how much will people want to spend of their tax dollars and how much are they willing to take a hit on their taxes? That always has an impact on it and the economy the last time around was not real good and that had a huge impact," Eliason added.
"This has been brewing and the City Council has been saying to us who are an advisory council, and we have to see what the costs are going to be, and what we do will be based on that and then if the voters are willing to vote it through."
Rosemount City Administrator Logan Martin said the study by intention has moved along slowly. The city staff wants to make sure it does not miss anyone with the ultimate goal of making the endeavor a more successful.
"We are coming along and we are having conversations with them because we do not have all the details - we have estimated for the building costs but we do not have the operational costs all nailed down yet so it is hard for us to meet with too many of them," said Dan Schultz, director Rosemount Parks and Recreation.
Rosemount City Council has not yet formally approved moving forward with the recreation center. Schultz said efforts to solidify and move forward with a potential recreation center is building steam. A land deal is underway with two property owners on the Akron Avenue site in Rosemount. Schultz shared how feedback received from the community so far has been positive.
Mark Wentzell, an architect with 292 Design Group, shared the preliminary conceptual plan that the cost estimates to build a recreation facility comes in around $29 million. This preliminary number does not include land or site and development costs that could cost taxpayers more than $1 million.
The overall breakdown is estimated to be $24,946,513 for construction, site development, parking lots, and driveways and landscaping, Wentzell said.
The furniture, fixtures and equipment and the testing survey costs and sewer are expected to cost about $1,127,500. Design and engineering fees are estimated to be $1,621,523. A contingency fund would need to be put in place for any project overages and that would be estimated to be $1,247,326.
Schultz said the city staff has taken part in a couple conversations with charter schools who would like to use space potentially become a partner. The city also has talked with the YMCA and other nonprofits about potential partnerships.
"We are still early enough and people want to move us along and get going, but it does take time to go through all the avenues and find the best partners to have and learns what roles they can play," Schultz added.
The council asked city staff to talk to potential partners that can gage community interest levels.
"I think there is a lot of positive feedback we have been getting from people that have seen the plans, and I heard from city council who attended the meet and greet at the Ames Soccer Complex that several people were talking about it with our administrator who had the plan, and he heard a lot of good things about it, so it is picking up steam and a lot of people are supportive," Schultz said.
If the community decides to build a recreational center, the city wants to be able to expand the footprint to accommodate the future needs of the community. Two courts could eventually lead to four, six or eight, he added.
In regards to an indoor swimming pool, talks have progressed with the school district about making the indoor pool bigger or build a competitive swimming pool for youth in sports to compete with," Schultz said.
"If the district is interested in partnering on this, and they may be or may not be because they have their own levy referendum coming up this fall," Schultz said.
All schools within Rosemount are currently reaching student capacity.
City officials met with District 196 Public Schools and District 196 Community Education. Other local groups include the upcoming Hope Fieldhouse, Rosemount High School administration and coaches, Rosemount Area Athletic Association, Salvo Soccer Club, Rosemount Area Hockey Association and Blackline Aquatics Club.
"The market analysts we hired as a subcontractor and architect said we are wealthier, we are younger and we have more kids than the national average, and he told us those things and he said you can likely support a facility," Martin said.
In the next few weeks, the parks commission and council plan to tour recreational facilities in the Twin Cities. This will serve as a good time to talk with facility operators and gather more information, Schultz said.
Eliason said he has enjoyed being a public servant and looks forward to seeing how the rec center discussion progresses.
"I decided to get involved when my kids were young and we had just moved into the area and I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps since he was involved in the schools in Minneapolis, and one thing he always said to me was that you can't complain if you don't get involved in anything," Eliason said.
If the council formally approves a final concept plan, construction would probably not begin until fall of 2020 and will take at least a year to complete.
"It may get bigger and it may get a little bit smaller but it just depends on what the numbers come back for cost, but we want to make sure there is something for everybody in there," Eliason said.
Few places to play indoors
Rosemount has a huge shortage of gym space, according to Rosemount Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Michael Eliason.
"Rosemount High School has one large gym that can be broken down, Rosemount Middle School has one gym and Rosemont Elementary does not have a full gym space, and there is some space at the community center that is owned by Minnesota National Guard," Eliason said.
Many groups resort to use gym space from the school district buildings in Apple Valley and Eagan, but this gym space is in high demand and it is very competitive to rent that space.
"We really have a shortage and so our traveling teams have to bounce all over the place in order to get gym space for basketball, volleyball and any for the indoor sports," he said.
Eliason added, "Having our own facility would be pretty nice to have for tournaments and the restaurants would be busy with tournaments and if we had a hotel we could start filling up that hotel and there are more and more options if you have the ability to have those things in a community."