BY KATHRYN KELLY
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board published the results of their survey for the Hiawatha Golf Course preferred plan. The responses have been compiled to try and quantify the results. This assessment is a best effort considering the vast variety of responses. The top 11 responses were:
157 people want to retain the 18-hole golf course
85 people like or are OK with the new plan
25 people worry that the homes will not be protected from flooding
25 people like proposed winter activities
16 people say that the proposal duplicates amenities that are nearby
16 people like the snow-making proposal
14 people want to get rid of the golf course
13 people want the project postponed due to COVID and economic problems
11 people say the proposed financials are suspect
10 people like paths around the lake
10 people ask to explore other ways to mitigate the water coming into the lake
It became very clear that a large majority of the respondents who stated a preference want the Park Board to retain the 18-hole golf course (61%). On the other hand, about half as many are accepting of the compromise (33%), and 14 people (6%) wanted to get rid of the golf course.
There was much concern that the Park Board has not adequately proven that the plan will protect the neighborhood homes from flooding. In particular, concerns were expressed that the new plan will reduce the floodplain storage by filling part of the flood plain to elevate the new golf course. The Park Board earlier stated that they could not do this without providing compensatory storage. No compensatory storage is defined in the new plan. SaveHiawatha18 has submitted a list of questions and concerns to the DNR regarding this issue and other homeowner concerns.
Improved and new winter activities were well received, including a proposal for snow-making. But, people need to be aware that snow-making will not necessarily reduce the DNR pumping permit volumes, especially if the water comes from the private well on the property as is done at Theodore Wirth. In fact, the allowed permit volumes may need to be increased. Also, under the new plan, the cross-country ski space will be cut in half, with half of the current golf course converted to water. These winter activities can be accommodated on the 18-hole golf course, which would provide more acreage.
Twenty-five people questioned why this project duplicates amenities that already exist nearby.
There was considerable concern expressed about the proposed financing of the project, especially in this time frame of COVID and economic distress. Many people felt this project should be postponed. Other people thought the $42 million price tag was unrealistically low. Also, in the current fiscal climate, people wondered where the Park Board would find the money.
Some people liked the path around the lake on the berm, but others were concerned that the berm would not be stable enough to support this path with water on both sides. And, some people want more research into alternative ways of handling the water on the property.
Is it finally time for the Park Board to bow to the majority of the survey respondents and quit wasting money on this plan? Instead, maintain the 18-hole golf course while incorporating many of the desired amenities and fixes into the current property?