Funding uncertain for Kelleher Park 

Upgrades proposed for Burnsville’s Kelleher Park would transform the 150-acre park into a destination location with a new building, a large picnic space and a trailhead for the Lake Marion Greenway.

Completion of a link in the greenway — a 20-mile trail from the Minnesota River to Murphy Hanrehan Park Reserve — was the impetus for planning Kelleher Park improvements, said Garrett Beck, Burnsville’s director of parks, recreation and facilities. A 1.6-mile segment from Burnsville’s Sunset Pond to Kelleher Park that includes a boardwalk was completed this year.

Beck said the park could function as a destination for greenway access, with 41 new parking spaces, bike racks and bike fix-it stations.

A building with indoor and outdoor seating for picnics and other gatherings of up to 100 people is also envisioned.

The upgraded park would fill a void in city’s system by providing a destination park in Burnsville’s southwest quadrant, Beck said. Kelleher is located off Burnsville Parkway about a mile south of County Road 42.

“This part of Burnsville really doesn’t have something like that,” Beck told the Parks and Natural Resources Commission Oct. 4. “The fact that there’s a greenway there now, we’re going to see people start to use this.”

Funding and timing are uncertain. Money earmarked for the project in 2022 would have funded nearly all of it, but costs in the construction industry have risen by up to 30 percent in the last six months — pushing the estimated cost from $2.7 million to more than $4 million, Beck said.

“We have a lot of questions from a funding standpoint, from a timing standpoint, of if and how a project like this would move forward,” he said.

Dakota County might pay for part of the building if the city provides storage space for a snowplow, Beck said. The greenway will be plowed during the winter.

Park amenities now include the regional trail, natural trails, play equipment, bat and ball fields, open green space, a basketball court, a volleyball court, portable restrooms and parking.

The upgraded park would include a roundabout near the building where people who have reserved it could unload their vehicles before finding a place to park, Beck said.

Feedback from area residents suggests they want to keep the basketball and volleyball courts, he said. The basketball court would be relocated, and a ballfield would be converted for other uses, Beck said.

Feedback suggests residents want a soccer field, he said, adding that the city could put out soccer goals without creating a full-fledged field.

“The feedback has been, people are excited,” Beck said. “They’re excited about the possibility of seeing a renovation and improvement to their park nearby them. But perhaps the most important thing folks are looking for is just to feel comfortable and safe in this area.”

Extension of fiber to the park would enable security improvements such as cameras and enhanced lighting systems, Beck said.

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