A proposed baseball complex in Rosemount is on hold because there's asbestos right next door.

As part of a larger development on land it owns in Rosemount, the University of Minnesota set aside 28 acres for a city park. But it turns out there's asbestos waiting to be removed in a stockpile of soil on adjoining property owned by the Dakota County Technical College.

So planning commissioners are withholding approval of the baseball complex until they're satisfied the park land is free of contamination.

"We are looking at a kids' ball field," Commissioner Wade Miller said. "I want to know that we have taken good precautions. We want to be able to look our neighbors in the eye and say this is going to be a really good park [and that] your children will not be exposed to a single fiber of asbestos."

The U donated the land to meet the city's park requirements as it prepares to develop the 5,000 acres it owns along County Road 42 in southeast Rosemount. The university hopes someday to turn the area into a master-planned community.

The baseball complex is proposed east of Akron Avenue and a half mile south of County Road 42.

Plans call for four Little League fields and one large diamond for older players, complete with stadium seating and a concessions building.

Work on the first phase -- two smaller fields with 84 parking spaces, estimated to cost $800,000 -- was set to start this year after a 2010 soil analysis found the land clean of contaminants.

The land has been the subject of at least three environmental reviews because it was once part of a larger tract where Gopher Ordnance Works made munitions for World War II and operated burning grounds between 1942 and 1945.

With this history in mind, Barr Engineering dug eight trenches in the soil for a 2010 evaluation and found no problems with lead, arsenic or other toxins,

But Barr did not scan for asbestos, saying it comes from building materials, and Gopher Ordnance Works had no buildings on what is now the city park land.

Since its report was done, 20,000 yards of soil contaminated by asbestos has been piled up at Dakota County Technical College, whose property borders the city land on the east.

Gopher Ordnance Works administration buildings had been built on the east side of the college property, and when the old buildings were removed asbestos from transite siding materials dropped to the soil, said Robert Kaiser of American Engineering Testing Inc., a consultant for the college.

The college scraped that dirt off the ground last fall in preparation for building its own baseball diamond, and extensive testing has found no asbestos remaining in the soil there, Kaiser said.

But the pile of dirt, a quarter-mile away from the city land, is considered a hazard by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. On April 4, the agency gave the college one month to remove the asbestos.

The college has chosen to screen the soil to remove larger asbestos particles and take those to a landfill, then cover the remaining soil with clean dirt and reseed it, Kaiser said.

When the Rosemount Planning Commission meets again on April 24, a Barr Engineering representative will be there to answer soil questions, City Planner Eric Zweber said.

If concerns about soil conditions are settled, the plan is to grade and seed the fields this year for use in 2013. Eleven inches of sand mixed with peat would be put down as cover over the graded areas.

No timeframe has been set for adding the other fields, Zweber said. "We want to get Phase One up and running and get people using it to determine demand."

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287