The recent events surrounding the fate of the historic Lakeview Golf Course (“Housing likely for Orono’s old golf course,” Jan. 10) represent a spiraling tragedy for people across the metro area concerned about preservation and property rights.
The first tragedy was when the longtime owner answered the first knock from the first developer misjudging the overwhelming community interest in preserving the land in a way that could have matched that offer.
The second was when the Orono City Council made it all about individual property rights, citing historic zoning provisions that had never addressed open space and applied to every park, preserve and golf course in the city. This at the expense of a comprehensive plan written like Preservation 101 (specifically discouraging the development of private golf courses).
Tragedy No. 3 was the council’s failure to recognize that a group that could gather 1,000 petition signatures and 400 pledges between Dec. 10 and Jan. 2 — think about the time frame — could easily have reached the goal of matching the first developer’s offer, preserving the owner’s property rights, the land and the comprehensive plan.
The final tragedy remains to play out. Will people flock to Orono to buy million-dollar homes without access to Lake Minnetonka in the Westonka school district? Real estate experts say it won’t happen. Will Lakeview become a legacy of shame? And will that tragedy spread to other cities facing the same unnecessary conflict?
BRYCE JOHNSON, Orono