Utility collaboration with active communities is necessary.
I’m encouraged that Minneapolis is working with the Xcel and Centerpoint utilities to produce and supply more green energy options to consumers; to adopt a much shorter franchise agreement, and to enter into other, more flexible agreements that allow for more neighborhood input and increasingly decentralized clean power generation (Twin Cities + Region, Aug. 20).
The incentive for Xcel and Centerpoint to cooperate continues to be provided not simply by their goodwill, but also by ongoing pressure and encouragement from neighborhood groups like Community Power, modeled on what Boulder, Colo., has been able to achieve.
I sincerely hope that other cities and towns (including my home city of St. Paul) will not passively sit by. Public servants, utility employees and citizens need to actively imagine and co-create new business models under which locally owned green energy production not only benefits us in terms of health, but also brings money and jobs into underserved communities. Communities should enjoy the direct economic benefits of owning and producing clean, locally produced energy.
That is the as-yet-undeveloped promise that more flexible agreements hold for all Minnesota cities and towns with utilities of all kinds. Old business models must change to embrace healthy and equitable economic prosperity. We deserve no less.
Elizabeth Dickinson, St. Paul
‘STATE OF GOLF’
Ways to view the changing landscape
As an avid golfer who frequents the metro area’s public courses, including those in the Minneapolis system, I read the recent two-part series “The state of golf in Minnesota” (Aug. 17-18) with great interest. Golf is many things to many people. Most notably, it is a sport, a leisure activity and a business. Those passionate about golf derive that passion from experiences with golf as a sport or leisure activity. It is most often this passion for golf that drives people into the golf business, yet it is business sense and managerial skill, and not passion for golf, that are the determining factors in the success or failure of golf enterprises and the golf industry as a whole.
Oversupply (courses) and lack of demand (golfers) are business problems that, if left alone, should correct themselves over time through market forces. This correction is prolonged and made more painful when individuals or entities interfere with market forces, particularly where golf enterprises are government-owned. If the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board does not allow business sense to overrule politics, especially the rent-seeking behavior of select private citizens, it risks running the city’s valuable and socially beneficial golf enterprise into the ground, at which point private buyers and operators would take over at a heavy discount and a huge loss to taxpayers.
John Grimes, Hopkins
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The series suggested two alternatives for decommissioned or evolving golf courses: soccer-ball golf and development. Soccer golf seems like a good idea; development, not so much, particularly for inner-city courses. The article noted two intersecting trends — the growth in popularity of activities like running and biking, and the decline in interest in golf. There are other equally important trends — a decline in physical activity and connection to nature, and growth in obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Given these trends, cities should consider turning decommissioned courses into green space with low-cost trails that provide access to nature and encourage physical activity. When golf rises again, the land will still be available to meet the new demand.
John Munger, Minneapolis
The writer is executive director of the Loppet Foundation.
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No one questions how much profit (or loss) the park system earns on Minnehaha Park. Golf courses should be no different. Amenities attract great people to great cities. Outdoor activities improve physical and mental health. The First Tee program teaches young people core values like confidence and responsibility. Maybe golf should be free, like the rest of the city’s parks.
Carl Hamm, Edina
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.