Rochester's proposal to purchase land from IBM clears its first hurdle (updated)
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - The Rochester Park and Recreation Board on Tuesday requested the city council pursue the acquisition of about 160 acres of land now owned by IBM.
IBM recently offered the city the first chance at purchasing the property, which includes a large recreation area and some vacant farm land. The company has been scaling back its workforce at its Rochester campus for the past quarter century.
"This absolutely is a prime location and I think there’s no doubt we should move forward and look at it," said board president Rod Toomey.
The existing IBM park already has an 18-hole disc golf course, two baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, shelter, play equipment and trails. The undeveloped portion has space for an additional 14 soccer fields and a large indoor sports complex.
The combined property is about twice the size of Soldiers Field Park.
Mike Nigbur, the head of the Park and Forestry Division, suggested the city consider purchasing the farm land for $5 million under the condition IBM agrees to donate the existing park.
“We have a rare chance to acquire a property that won’t be around much longer if we don’t act on it," said Nigbur, who has been in direct contact with IBM.
The property could be funded by grants, independent sports groups and other fundraising efforts, according to Nigbur. However, he acknowledged a feasibility analysis will still need to be done before any serious negotiations begin.
Rochester currently has more than 100 individual parks compromising 3,500 acres of land, according to the city's website. That includes 81 playground areas, 36 tennis courts, 54 ball diamonds, 15 basketball courts and two dog parks.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 19.
(Cover photo: File / Balthazar Korab)