Edina has begun the controversial job of finding a new use for “The Fred,” the beloved city golf course that will close at the end of the season.
In March, the City Council voted to close the Fred Richards Golf Course despite the pleas of golfers who adore the easy-to-play links. Nearby residents also objected, worried about what might replace the quiet course.
City officials have said that the 42-acre property will remain city park property, but exactly what that means has been unclear. Last week, the council voted to hire a consulting firm to help develop a master plan for park use of the Fred.
Mindful of the uproar over the course’s closure, the plan that went before the council includes a heavy dose of public involvement like public meetings, a walking tour of the site and workshops.
But it wasn’t enough for Mayor Jim Hovland, the only one of five council members to vote against the proposal. He said master planning for renovation of the city’s bigger golf course, Braemar, should occur first to make sure the city isn’t left without any active golf courses next year. He added that in his view, the proposal didn’t include enough public consultation.
“Frankly, if we go to work this fall on Braemar we may still need the Fred next year,” Hovland said. “I think it’s going to be very emotional … to me, this seems rushed.”
But member Ann Swenson said the proposal included plenty of public involvement, and said pushing the process back would only complicate things.
“If we delayed this process, people would have the feeling [that they don’t] know what’s going on there,” she said. “To delay this just adds to those fears.”
The council suggested amending the contract with Schoenbauer Consulting, LLC to include more than one walk on the site.
“We need to make sure the process is at different times of the day and in different weeks to make sure people can participate,” said member Joni Bennett. “I’m particularly concerned about the site walks.”
Member Josh Sprague urged that notice of the public consultation process go beyond the immediate neighborhood around the course at 7640 Parklawn Av. A new park on the site would be used by residents from a large area, he said.
Public events linked to the redesign of the Fred are expected to begin in June. The consultant’s report would go to the Park Board and council in October, followed by hiring of a landscape architect and construction plans and bidding.
The council also approved a master planning process for Braemar, which will be renovated to improve the course and make changes that the city hopes will attract golfers who used the Fred. Again the process will be heavy on public involvement, with a task force that includes members from different groups interested in the golf course.
The task force will choose a consultant to develop a master plan for Braemar. That is expected to cost $30,000 to $60,000 and will be paid for by funding from the Braemar Memorial Fund, a fund created by the Braemar Men’s Club. Once a Braemar consultant is hired, the planning process is expected to take four to six months.
Pamela Park’s upgrade
In other action, the council authorized bids for the $3.4 million renovation of Pamela Park at 4301 W. 58th St. With two soccer fields and three baseball diamonds, the 62-acre park is heavily used but has had field problems related to condition and drainage.
The work includes field renovations, converting one field to artificial turf, adding hard paths, expanding parking lots and a new shelter building.
Council members questioned the details of the shelter, including whether the bathrooms were big enough and the design was right. The $600,000 building is still included in the project but some changes may occur to the design, city officials said.