Harry Davis Jr. stated in his Black Golf History presentation on Nov. 14, 2018, that Hiawatha Golf Course is more than a golf course in the City of Minneapolis, it is an INSTITUTION!
Opened in 1934, Hiawatha Golf Course has served the South Minneapolis community for over 80 years as a place of recreation, solitude, camaraderie, learning and openness to ALL! It is considered one of the most, if not THE most, ethnically diverse golf courses in the State of Minnesota.
And, Theodore Wirth, long-time MPRB superintendent, who was responsible for the building of the Minneapolis Golf Courses, said in his 1944 history of the MPRB, “With the introduction of municipal courses in public parks, golf has come within reach of the public in general.”
Throughout the past two years, SaveHiawatha18 has determined that Hiawatha Golf Course is not the problem. It is a victim of bad water strategy being implemented by a variety of municipalities and government agencies in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, including the City of Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has not held parties accountable for their contribution to the problem. The MPRB’s proposed solution will cost millions of dollars, close down an historical golf course, and potentially flood nearby homes. The problem of too much water and pollution will still not be solved, and the public health of Lake Hiawatha will not be improved.
The MPRB needs to implement solutions to the water problems that are based on science and that actually solve the problems. And, Hiawatha Golf Course truly deserves to continue serving future generations as an 18-hole golf course.
What are the erroneous and untrue reasons given for closing Hiawatha Golf Course?
Hiawatha Golf Course Ground is sinking—There is no scientific proof that this is happening.
Hiawatha Golf Course is in violation of its pumping permits with the DNR—The DNR says that Hiawatha Golf Course is in compliance with its two existing irrigation permits. The DNR says that the MPRB needs to get a Dewatering permit for the water that is being pumped into Lake Hiawatha.
The DNR won’t let the pumping of water continue at current levels—The DNR has stated that they have not defined a pumping level that is acceptable.
The pumping of water is environmentally unsound—The MPRB’s 2017 Barr Engineering groundwater report says that the existing pumping is likely to have minimal ecological impact.
Hiawatha Golf Course is polluting Lake Hiawatha—The MPRB’s 2017 Barr Engineering groundwater report says that the pumping of water from the golf course contributes less than 1% of the pollution coming into Lake Hiawatha.
Every time Hiawatha Golf Course floods it costs “a lot of money” to bring it back—This has not been true for any of the major floods (1965, 1987 and 2014). The golf course was pumped and grass seed was put down. That is all that has ever been done.
Hiawatha Golf Course is losing money—Information found by SaveHiawatha18 indicates that the MPRB golf courses have been mismanaged and under-capitalized since 2010, resulting in a drop in revenue, and putting the golf courses into a “death spiral.”
What should be done?
Apply for a Dewatering permit from the DNR for the current level of pumping.
Upgrade the 18-hole golf course for even better resilience from flooding.
Study and implement ways to mitigate the excess water, trash and pollution coming into Lake Hiawatha. Perform a study led by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) for the whole Minnehaha Creek Watershed.
Study and implement ways to lower the level of Lake Hiawatha, focusing on the inbound and outbound Minnehaha Creek.
Replace trees that have been lost over the past 20 years.
Enhance and further implement the current Audubon Certification for Hiawatha Golf Course.
Create a long-term operations and capital budget for the Minneapolis Golf Courses, along with cleaning up the financial accounting and reporting.
Upgrade the club house.
Produce a full history of the property for permanent display in the clubhouse and on the golf course.
Look into restoring a better level of accessibility to the property by the neighborhood, especially in the non-golfing season.
Look at ways to accommodate non-golf participation for the neighborhood on the property.

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