ROCHESTER — Continuing renovations to Soldiers Field Park would largely leave the existing golf course untouched for at least three years.
“Our primary concern is anything north of the golf course,” Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman told Rochester City Council members as they considered a proposed upgrade. day of the park master plan.
The plan, which was created in 2014, calls for the Soldiers Field golf course to be gradually reduced from an 18-hole course to a nine-hole facility, but no timetable has been set for the transition.
With a three-year plan that focuses on replacing and expanding the existing pool, as well as adding pickleball courts, expanding trails and other improvements, would alter up to five holes on the course from golf, but would keep 18 holes in play.
“We tried to minimize them as much as possible,” said Minneapolis-based HKGI partner Rita Trapp, a consultant hired to update the existing master plan.
Potential changes to the golf course would be made to double the footprint of the city pool, to add a variety of other water features, including possible wading pools and a lazy river.
The project is estimated at $10 million.
Trapp said expanding to 70,000 to 80,000 square feet makes the most sense south of the existing facility, which would encroach on the golf course.
Mike Nigbur, chief of the city’s parks and forestry division, said final decisions on the status of the golf course are largely pending as the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Rochester Park Board are considering options for the city’s four golf courses.
While the proposed three-year plan aims to limit changes to the golf course, several council members focused on that possibility as a crowd of nearly 40 golf advocates attended Monday’s study session.
“I think we have to stick to the 18 holes and the golf course, where we do a scientific investigation,” he said of a process that began this month.
Nigbur said the community engagement related to the master plan indicates potential change for the Soldiers Field golf course.
“The vast majority of people said they wanted to see a change in golf,” he said.
Council members pointed out that the Park Board was holding a public hearing regarding the city’s golf operations at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Mayo Civic Center, and some questioned whether moving the space for other uses of the park was a good decision.
“We would replace something that pays for itself with something that we have to pay to maintain,” council member Mark Bransford said of the plan’s proposal to create open, natural spaces on the west side of the Zumbro River.
Meanwhile, council member Molly Dennis said she’s heard from residents who want more space in the park for other activities.
“A lot of people who use Ward 6 parks, and people I’ve spoken to, don’t have golf clubs or pickleball paddles,” she said. “They come to parks for places to belong, they come for events and connections, so I think we need to make sure we keep green spaces available.”
Board Chair Brooke Carlson urged the board to focus on the first three years of the update, as that involved working with anticipated funding sources, which include $10 million in potential funding from the state destination medical center, $5 million in federal grants, and $2.5 million to $3. million from the parks referendum.
“This is an opportunity for DMC to invest in a real community asset,” she said, noting that the DMC Corp. of the state is expected to discuss the 2023 spending plan on Thursday.
Nigbur said any potential changes to the number of holes at the Soldiers Field golf course will occur after the launch of the three-year plan update, unless the council or park board directs otherwise.
Other aspects of Soldiers Field Park’s long-term plan that would be delayed until future funding becomes available include the potential realignment of streets and the creation of an arboretum.
What happened: Rochester City Council considered a proposed update to the Soldiers Field Park Master Plan.
Why is this important: The proposed update would expand the city’s pool facilities over the next three years, while delaying a proposal to reduce the number of holes at Soldiers Field golf course from 18 to nine.
And after: The Rochester Park Board will review the proposed plan update on October 4.