The new $3 million park building at Round Lake isn’t the kind of park shelter your grandparents would remember from their youth.
TV monitors, security cameras, a mini-kitchen, changing rooms, a rooftop rain garden, solar panels, and an expansive outdoor patio are all a part of the multi-purpose building that has replaced a 40-year-old, cement-block building at Round Lake Park.
Also a part of the new building is a warming room – equipped with Wi-Fi, counter-height table seating, and flooring durable enough for ice skates – that serves skaters using nearby outdoor rinks. It is definitely not the old trailer with dilapidated stair steps and an ailing heater in the corner, as Parks Director Amy Markle recalls from her childhood ice-skating days.
But the topper is the new building’s 80-person community room, with a huge wall of windows allowing one to enjoy scenic Round Lake from indoors. This is rentable space that, for the first time, makes Round Lake Park conducive for weather-protected graduation and birthday parties, family reunions, baby showers, and business meetings.
“I’m guessing it’s going to be fairly popular,” Markle said about the new facility while seated in its community room. “It’s a nice building, it’s centrally located, there’s parking, there’s a beautiful walking trail – there’s a lot for people to do aside from being in this room.”
The older building, she added, “didn’t meet the community’s needs. We really wanted something that could accommodate use year-round. The other building was used primarily in the winter for a warming house. This building is four-season. It can accommodate people at the beach, the splash pad, the playground, and just walking. Also, all the winter sports.”
Numerous ‘green’ features
The modern design results from taking a list of city needs and ideas – including functional ideas that have proved popular at the city’s next-oldest park-building project, the building at Staring Lake Park – and handing the list to ISG Architects, which touts the project on its website.
The city went the extra mile to add sustainability features to the building, providing capacity for geothermal heating, energy-efficient appliances, and the aforementioned solar panels and rooftop plants. Things that raise the project price initially. “But you’ll make (the additional cost) back with savings on energy,” added Markle.
“We’ll also be using the building as a teaching tool, because it’s energy-efficient, so we can talk about some of the unique building features,” she said.
In fact, guided tours that tout the building’s sustainability are expected to be part of an Arbor Day event on April 27, the building’s big formal debut.
The building also has numerous features to make it accessible to people with disabilities. It puts everything on one level, utilizes automatic door openers, and has tables designed for wheelchair use.
Easy access to new changing rooms is expected to benefit users of the beach and “splash pad.”
The new building is the latest in a long list of improvements to Round Lake Park over recent decades. Most of the projects ahead are smaller, including this year’s renovation of tennis courts.
Funding for the project was split between the city’s capital maintenance and reinvestment fund, which includes some proceeds from the EP Liquor operation, and the park improvement fund.
Round Lake Park is one of four large community parks operated by the city. Others are Staring Lake Park, Miller Park, and Riley Lake Park. All are busy, but Round Lake Park is notable for the large events held there, including the Schooner Days and Corn Feed events held by the Eden Prairie Lions Club and the city’s Fourth of July Celebration.
More information about renting the new building and other City of Eden Prairie park facilities is on the city’s website.
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