The Minneapolis Park Board is getting closer to determining the future of the Hiawatha Golf Course with a decision Wednesday that makes it unlikely it will remain an 18-hole course.
The board will vote this week to direct a community advisory group to explore reduced pumping at the course to 94 million gallons a year down from the 242 million gallons yearly — a move that would leave much of the course too soggy for play.
Massive pumping now keeps the course and area homes mostly dry — which is ideal for many golfers and people who want to see the property stay as is. The future of the city course has been a contentious issue since torrential rains flooded it in 2014.
“I understand the golf course has played a large role in many people’s lives and they have very strong emotions surrounding it,” said Commissioner Steffanie Musich. “I understand the role it plays for people but I also feel my role as an elected official is to see beyond emotions and understand the bigger picture.”
Supporters of keeping the property as it is have been adamant that the pumping should continue.
“I’m stunned that the board of commissioners have not been listening to the concerns of the neighborhood and the homeowners in the community,” said Sue Erickson.
Erickson said the Park Board is going forward with a plan that cannot guarantee keeping homes safe from flooding.
In May, a few members of the community advisory committee pleaded with the Park Board to consider their proposal to keep all options on the table.
They wanted the board to consider what would happen if pumping were reduced versus if it continued at the higher levels.
During a July 11 meeting, the board’s planning committee voted to reduce pumping to 94 million gallons a year. The Park Board will vote on that recommendation Wednesday and is expected to pass it.
In August 2017, the Park Board decided to reduce groundwater pumping at the golf course in line with a recommendation by the state Department of Natural Resources. That would have meant the course was too wet and would have closed in 2019.
But supporters rallied, and the board voted two months later to delay the closing for at least five years.
During the last community advisory meeting, Michael Schroeder, the Park Board’s assistant superintendent for planning, couldn’t guarantee any amount of reduced pumping would save homes from water damage.