The idea of playing in a sprinkler is moving from back yards into public playgrounds, and Rosemount is hoping to join the trend.
The city wants to build a splash pad — a water playground with spraying water and sprinklers — this fall and open it in 2014.
"We have a plethora of young children in our community, and we do not have a swimming pool or water park," said Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste. "So when we build it, it will be highly utilized."
In a town of about 23,000 people, including 7,000 children, "You've got to provide something for them when it's very hot," he said.
Droste said he receives complaints or suggestions from youngsters about the lack of a swimming pool. "Or I hear from parents that they have to drive quite a ways to go to a water facility, especially like last year, when it was quite warm."
Discussions about a splash pad have been in the works for two to three years, Droste said.
Rosemount would join other south metro communities with splash pads, like Apple Valley and Burnsville.
Dry playgrounds may become a thing of the past as splash pads grow more popular and enable cities to provide a free summer activity for cooling off, without the concern of drowning or children who can't swim.
Rosemount's population tripled over the past 10 to 15 years and continues to grow, and residents are expecting more local amenities, Droste said. "That's what makes it appealing to live in a suburb," he said.
The city put aside funds for a splash pad in its Capital Improvement Plan budget over the last few years, and now it has enough for the project, according to Rosemount Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schultz.
The city has been in talks with several communities that have recently built splash pads. The cost for the playground structure alone is between $300,000 and $400,000, Schultz said, based on the price of the one in Cottage Grove. Added costs include utility work and possibly relocating existing amenities where the splash pad would be built.
Schwarz Pond Park and Central Park are two potential sites. The Rosemount Parks and Recreation Commission will weigh the choices at a June 24 meeting and bring its recommendation to the City Council. "I think it'll move quickly after this decision is made," Schultz said.
The commission also awaits cost estimates for each park.
Schwarz Pond Park is more open and is "considered to be an underutilized park at this time," Schultz explained. It has plenty of parking, but "it's a little bit harder to get to — it's kind of off the beaten path," and the city would have to bring utilities to that site. "Those are costly to run to a facility," he said.
Central Park would be less of a challenge in terms of utilities, but to fit a splash pad into the busy downtown area, the city may need to relocate existing amenities and figure out a way to provide more parking. "From what we hear from other communities, splash pads are very popular and can draw large crowds," Schultz said.
Rosemount expects its splash pad will be a hit.
"We have a lot of young families and a lot of people who like to be outdoors," Schultz said. "This brings another opportunity for people to get out and be active."