BY PETER MCLAUGHLIN
• Your job is to create a park system for all of Minneapolis. Your plan will destroy a vital, viable historic resource that has served the community for almost a hundred years. You may not like golf, but there are people who do, people who get great pleasure from this course just as you might by biking, hiking, swimming or skating. It is essential for the park system to maintain a rich mix of opportunities for the residents of Minneapolis. This will diminish that richness, particularly in South Minneapolis.
• Financially, this plan is a disaster. You are cutting revenue at a time when the system needs revenue. Does golf pay for itself? Last year it sure did, though it admittedly hadn’t always. But trees don’t pay for themselves; walking paths don’t pay for themselves; and on and on. Golf pays for a lot of its costs. On top of that, the proposed plan will require tens of millions of dollars in additional capital funds that you don’t have. Why is this a priority? It will consume resources needed in other parts of the system. They won’t be available in North Minneapolis or Northeast. And for South Minneapolis, I ask, where are the resources for Ed Solomon Park? It’s got a sign and that’s about it, after how many years? So many that I fear people will forget who Ed was and walk away. On top of all that you will have to use valuable political capital to get the funding you need. It’s beyond me why this should be such a high priority.
• The water. The pumping limit is a phony artifact! I’ve talked to the DNR. They are not going to shut down this golf course because of the pumping limit. Come up with a plan, seek a new permit for the level of pumping required, and it will be approved. There are farmers all over Minnesota who pump more water than this golf course. Why should the problem of water storage for a huge chunk of Hennepin County be borne by the people of South Minneapolis, the golfers and others who love this course. You’re doing other people‘s bidding at the expense of golfers and the historic legacy of Black residents’ use of this golf course.
• No matter how many plaques and old black-and-white pictures of Black golfers you put up, it will NOT properly recognize the historic role this course played in the tortured racial history of this city and this state. It’s tokenism of the worst sort. I can understand some members not knowing the history, but once you knew it, to relegate it to some memorabilia and a flawed nine-hole design is inexcusable.
What do I suggest? Get a plan that preserves the course, while increasing access, improving amenities, cleaning up the water, cleaning up the pollution, preserving a revenue stream and saving tens of millions of dollars for other critical capital needs including Ed Solomon Park.
That’s a path that would benefit all of Minneapolis and properly recognize the history of this course and its importance to the Black community.
I urge you to set out on a new path. Reject this plan. And don’t make the only lost priority the historic 18-hole golf course.
Peter McLaughlin is the executive director of LISC Twin Cities (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and the former state representative and county commissioner representing South Minneapolis.