And the winning name for Empire Township park is...

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPHREY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2012 - 10:17 PM

"Whitetail Woods" appears to be in line for approval as the name for new regional park.

In picking park names, it seems, the third time's a charm.

The new regional park in Empire Township will be known as Whitetail Woods.

The Dakota County Board still has to give a final stamp of approval to the name, but commissioners -- who haven't been shy about their dislike of previous suggestions -- were enthusiastic about the choice last week.

"That's the one that stuck out to me," Commissioner Joe Harris said after giving an approving nod to the deer-themed moniker during a committee meeting.

The 456-acre park south of Rosemount is in his district, and he had been hearing from residents who thought the previously proposed Hills and Hollows Regional Park was too reminiscent of Appalachia.

"It's more of a Kentucky or Tennessee phrase," Harris said. "It really didn't resonate with anybody."

Before almost adopting Hills and Hollows last year, the board had rejected a variety of names, including Dakota Vista and Empire Ridge in early 2010. The board thought those names weren't specific enough or went against the county practice of not naming county buildings and parks after cities and townships.

On the third try, county communications director Gail Plewacki offered three wildlife-themed proposals -- Whitetail Woods, Fawn's Crossing and Eagle's Rest -- noting that prior attempts to evoke landscape names were unsuccessful.

The park, sandwiched between UMore Park and two wildlife management areas, doesn't have a dominant natural feature.

The plan for the park calls for a dog park, camper cabins, hiking and picnic areas, and a hybrid arboretum and agriculture area.

"You were looking for something that would evoke more of an emotional response and had more of a Minnesota feel to it," Plewacki said in presenting the third round of name choices. "All three reflect the park."

A pair of eagles live in the park, but there is no guarantee that they'll stay. County staff members have reported frequent deer sightings, however, which propelled one choice to the top of the list for Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord.

"If we name this thing for deer, people are going to expect to see deer," she said. "I like Whitetail Woods."

The county will float the name to township officials and residents before voting to make Whitetail Woods official.

Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286

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