City council members voice opinions, concerns over Soldiers Fiel - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

City council members voice opinions, concerns over Soldiers Field Master Plan

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Soldiers Field Master Plan was rolled out to city council members Monday as park and recreation officials seek more feedback on the future development.

City council members have no official say in the final plan, but Monday they had the opportunity to voice their comments, questions and concerns about the Master Plan. Many of them echo what the greater Rochester community has said.

"Every component we've got out there, whether it's the pool, the track, the playground equipment, the golf course, has opposing sides to each one of those," said Mark Nigbur of Rochester Park and Recreation. "They all say, you can ask anybody, we want it on one side, we don't want it on the other side."

The talk was another step forward on a long road ahead in combing through feedback.

"You know, there's some good ideas here, but how it's all going to happen is a little confusing to me," said city council member, Ed Hruska.

Logistics of the Master Plan raised some brows during the presentation, with several rearrangements of major park features, including the pool. However, no final decisions have been made.

"The same has held true, these people can't get a consensus of what they want in the park itself," said Nigbur.

A couple of things will remain the same, including the west side playground and baseball field, but many other things could look rather different.

"We're confident that everything north of golf right now is in need of improvement," said Park and Recreation director, Paul Widman.

North of the golf course would feature a new aquatic facility, expanded tennis courts, and a winter ice rink around the track, just to name a few. Those improvements are receiving praise from many corners of town. Nevertheless, one part in particular has raised heated discussion both in the community and the council.

"People do not want to see the 18 hole golf course go away," said city council member Bruce Snyder. Surveys find at least 50 percent want the course to remain the same. The other half say nine holes, or no holes. Right now, the Master Plan trims Soldiers Field golf course to just nine, due to data showing a decline in golf profitability. 

"Every option would maintain golf at 18 holes for the next 10 to 15 years," said Widman. The golf course would maintain the 18 for now, because the plan is split into two phases.

Phase one is everything north of the course and will take at least a decade to complete. Once phase two is set to begin, Widman said the Park and Recreation board of directors will revisit the fate of the golf course.

"If golf is thriving, then we're going to leave it right where it's at," said Widman. "If our numbers show a decline, then we approach the board and see how we can best develop that land for open use to the public."

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