Lake Elmo Park Reserve Swim Pond opens

A newly renovated swim pond at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve will feature new facilities but also a new change in rules.

“The facility was functionally obsolete and we had some concerns with accessibility issues,” said Public Works deputy director Wayne Sandberg.

There are several upgrades to the 30-year-old swimming pond, and Washington County staff hope the changes to the surrounding area that will better serve the thousands of visitors to Lake Elmo Park Reserve annually.

“This area is being loved to death,” Sandberg said. “We have a lot more people than originally planned. This is a lot of people to put in a very concentrated area.”

As part of the $1.4 million over haul, workers replaced the pond infrastructure and added amenities better accessibility. The maximum depth of pond was reduced from six feet to four feet and pond cleaning system was replaced.

Before the remodel, Sandberg said that large groups have brought grills, moved tables and settled in for the entire day. These gatherings have produced large amounts of trash — including raw meat — and caused stress on the bathroom and concession facilities. As part of the remodel, Sandberg said that a nearby picnicking area that wasn’t being used a lot was incorporated into the larger swim pond area — keeping food preparation away from the swimming area and giving visitors a better location to have large gatherings.

“We have removed all of the grills and most of the picnic tables away from the pond area,” Sandberg said.

Pond users will see improvements that include more trees, sidewalks, and benches, as well as accessibility in parking areas, accessible picnic tables, and a hard-surfaced, zero-depth entry into the pond.

Extra park staff will be available at the park in the early weeks of the pond reopening to help explain new procedures.

Overall project funding for the pond upgrade was made possible through Metropolitan Council grants of $1.4 million from a combination of state and Metropolitan Council general obligation bonds and Parks and Trails Fund appropriations.

Work will continue in the future that will include an upgrade of the concession stands and lifeguard building. Other possible future projects include adding a splash pad.

“I would be in favor of looking at a splash pad in the future to take some of the pressure off of the swim pond, if that is something the board would like to look at in the future,” said Commissioner Lisa Weik.

A ribbon-cutting for the pond is planned for 2:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1, at the pond. Lake Elmo Park Reserve is at the intersection of County Road 19 and County Road 10 in Lake Elmo.