MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Bloomington’s Valley View Park packs a lot of fun into 34 acres, featuring everything from an outdoor swimming pool, multiple baseball and softball fields and a playground.
Residents like Jeff Barnes would like to see the park stay the way it is. He’s the director of the Fireman’s Tournament, a series of annual softball games. The event raises tens of thousands of dollars every summer.
If a new community center is approved, there’s a chance the softball fields participants play on could go away.
“I don’t know what we’ll do. We might have to move to a different city, and we really don’t want to do that because we like showcasing the city of Bloomington and their parks and rec department,” Barnes said.
The city has been looking to build a new community center since 2015. Bloomington’s Parks and Rec Director Ann Kettreh says the city’s population is growing, and the old community center can’t keep up.
“It’s aging and it is beyond its functional life,” Kettreh said.
Valley View Park was selected as a proposed site for the community center because it is a large space that is already city-owned. There are no concrete plans for the building or even where on the park’s land it would be built, but there are some ideas about what it might feature.
“We’re looking at a lot of traditional amenities that you would see in a community center, like an indoor park, a walking track, gyms, indoor and outdoor pools,” Kettreh said.
She says while the plan is fluid, one thing is certain.
“We have baseball fields that are very treasured to the community, certainly. We have the Kent Hrbek complex and the Red Haddox complex, and we have said from the very beginning that those facilities will not be touched,” Kettreh said.
People were able to get a look at preliminary park plans and possible building locations at Bloomington’s Civic Plaza Thursday night.
City council members will make the final decision on whether or not the project moves forward. Residents will be able to share their thoughts about the proposal with city council members at their meeting on Monday night.
A recent study estimates the community center could cost $85 million, and it could be up to four years before the community center is built and functional.
If the plan moves forward, city leaders will discuss potential funding options that could include a referendum. More information about the proposal can be found here.