Neighbors and fans of Eagan's Parkview Golf Club have pleaded passionately for the city to save the last 18-hole golf course in the city, but emotions went up another notch this week when City Council members received a death threat.
It arrived by letter at City Hall on Tuesday, the day the council was to discuss a controversial proposal to close the golf course and build 175 houses there.
The letter, written in block letters, read, "ANY COUNCIL MEMBER VOTING FOR DEVELOPING PARVIEW [sic] WILL DIE!! YOU ARE ALL IN ON IT WITH THE DEVELPER [sic] !!" It was signed "FOPV," which Mayor Mike Maguire speculated stands for "Friends of Parkview."
Eagan police say they are investigating the letter as a terroristic threat. In recent weeks, the city and members of a neighborhood group that opposes the housing plan also have received anonymous packets accusing the city of conflicts of interest and listing alleged legal disputes involving Kurt Manley of the development company Hunter Emerson. Those packets had been signed "Friends of Parkview" with a return address at the Wescott Library in Eagan.
Residents who packed the City Council chambers for Tuesday's meeting gasped when the mayor read the letter aloud.
"There's no place in our community for this kind of discussion," Maguire said, waving a copy of the letter. "I'm not going to tolerate us lowering the level of discourse on this issue to this kind of garbage."
The council voted unanimously to proceed with the process of changing Parkview's land use from open space to residential. It will require approval by the Metropolitan Council and another city vote to become final.
Council Member Gary Hansen said the city has tried to make the Parkview discussion a "very deliberate process that, I think, was fair to both sides of the issue."
Neither he nor the mayor blames neighbors who have organized opposition as being responsible for sending the anonymous packets or the threatening letter.
"You'd like to think an Eagan resident would not do such a thing," Hansen said.
Both said it would be wrong to disregard the threat, but expressed more disappointment than fear for having received it.
"This is clearly the most extreme, overly emotional attempt at persuasion that I've seen in my entire time on the council," Maguire said. "I've never seen somebody actually put to paper what amounts to a terroristic threat."
Emotions have run high in Eagan since this past spring, when Hunter Emerson bought Parkview with plans to build 175 houses on the 80-acre property.
The course's owners have said that keeping it open isn't financially feasible. They say it's been losing money every year as golf participation declines.
Many neighbors have protested that the homes would ruin the bucolic open space they enjoy, draw more traffic to nearby streets and endanger the environment. They have been joined in their protests by fans of Parkview, which is known for its accessibility, long open season and promotion of youth golf.
In addressing the council during Tuesday's meeting, Patrick Campbell, a spokesman for a group of neighbors, said they disregarded the anonymous packet they received.
"We did nothing with those," Campbell said. "We didn't think they were appropriate."
Discussion at the meeting was orderly and calm but lengthy, lasting until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Katie Humphrey • 952-746-3286