Destination Medical Center approves $10M for Soldiers Field Memorial Park improvements

(ABC 6 News) – The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board of Directors approved $10 million to aid in funding improvements to Soldiers Field Memorial Park.

After months of engagement with local stakeholder groups, a collaborative plan was put forth with a shared vision to benefit the greatest amount the Rochester community.

“The DMCC board not only recognizes the importance of Soldiers Field Memorial Park to the DMC initiative but also the immense significance it has for all of Rochester,” said DMCC board chair Pamela Wheelock. “This park has been a signature public space for decades and these improvements, selected through extensive community engagement, will make sure Soldiers Field continues to be welcoming and inclusive to residents and visitors alike.”

There are several key features that align with the DMC Development plan including using sustainable building practices and focusing on universal design. Some of the park improvements include:

  • Expanded aquatics area with lap and wading pools, lazy river, and a splash pad.
  • Inclusive playground and shelter on the east side
  • Basketball courts and track improvements
  • Downtown riverwalk

The Rochester City Council will consider this item at their Wednesday, February 22 regular meeting. The cost of the project is estimated at $22.5 million with $10 million coming from DMC funds and the remainder from federal, state, and local resources.

The DMCC Board of Directors also approved support for the next steps in the redevelopment of the downtown waterfront. This culminates a comprehensive community engagement process to reconnect to the Zumbro River, create a signature public space along the river, and to open underutilized city-owned properties to future private development.

“Cities throughout the country are rediscovering the importance of connecting with the natural beauty of their riverfronts,” stated DMCC board member Kim Norton. “Rochester has an opportunity to do the same and to do so in way that provides for both public and private development, as well as reconnecting with its origins.”

The funds will be used for the following:

  • $350,000 for riverfront design and engineering including:
    • Working with appropriate State and Federal agencies to discuss necessary modifications to the river channel wall managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
    • Red Owl/Time Theater property analysis
    • Site design and development preparation
  • Up to $450,000 for the purchase of the Olmsted County-owned “Mr. Muffler” site.

The next DMCC Board meeting is set for Thursday, May 25, 2023, at 9:30 a.m.