A group of concerned citizens is preparing to fight the Minneapolis Park Board to keep Hiawatha Golf Course as an 18-hole course. The board voted six to three last week to close the course because it’s pumping too much groundwater. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made the recommendation.
The course currently pumps more than 262 million gallons of water a year. A state permit only allows for 36 million gallons.
The group Save Hiawatha 18 says the board made its decision without input from the community. Board members say reducing pumping and closing the course are the best options. But some in the community say that decision is not in the best interest of homeowners and people who golf at Hiawatha.
Jerry Mullin, an environmental consultant, has lived across the street from Hiawatha Golf Course for 20 years. “Young and old, it’s used by everyone around the clock,” Mullin said.
He was present for the flood in 2014, which led to the park board finding out it was pumping too much water from the storm water ponds on the course into Lake Hiawatha. “It seems apparent that they just want to create a large storm water pond across the street and replace this historical golf course,” Mullin said.
He says the board is not addressing the watershed issues that start in Gray’s Bay and come down through the cities to the Hiawatha neighborhood. “The reality is the park board and their planners came to us and told us what the DNR wanted and what they were going to do,” said Bobby Warfield of Save Hiawatha 18.
The park board will now petition the DNR to reduce pumping to 94 million gallons a year. Some feel cutting back will mean disaster for homes that surround the course.
“If they reduce pumping, those homes are clearing in jeopardy, and they feel that and understand it,” said Alex Adams of Save Hiawatha 18. “That seems to be one of the risks, the safety risks that hasn’t been opening discussed.”
The park board said in a statement, “Hiawatha will remain open as an 18-hole golf course during the estimated two-year community engagement, master planning, final design, engineering and permitting process.”
Members of Save Hiawatha 18 say more people should weigh in on what’s best for the environment and community. “We go back to maybe a two-year moratorium and we discuss it in depth, we get the community involved, get scientists involved, have the DNR more actively involved,” Adams said. “Not just one hydrologist, but have people in the department, have political people involved.”
Save Hiawatha 18 says it is not against other developments to include more wetlands or opportunity for better water, they just want both that and the golf course to co-exist.