A long-awaited public meeting on Tuesday will give an update on the hydrology that could affect how Hiawatha golf course is redeveloped.
But the session isn't going to provide any recommendations on how the damaged golf course should be redeveloped, according to Michael Schroeder, an assistant park superintendent.
The future of Hiawatha has become a topic of debate in the area. Golfers want it rebuilt with 18 holes, but some neighbors want more of the roughly 170 acres to be devoted to other recreation or even a food-growing forest.
But what happens may be be dictated by water. The course flooded two years ago this month. Although the front nine has been open, and the back nine opened Friday, the latter has some holes still in rough shape.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials went into planning for the restoration of Hiawatha and the similarly damaged Meadowbrook course with the goal of creating courses that are more flood-resistant, offer improved playing conditions and boast better facilities.
But then it was discovered that the park system was pumping hundreds of millions of gallons of water from stormwater ponds on the course into adjacent Lake Hiawatha without a permit for that, halting planning for a reconstructed course.
Park planners last updated the public on that issue last September, and have commissioned and analyzed extensive studies of the area's surface and ground water flow since then.
Key questions have been whether the pumping involves mostly surface water or also groundwater that may migrate into the ponds, and what happens if the pumps were turned off. Planners are considering not only the impact on the golf course if water was allowed to find its own level, but also whether neighboring homes would be affected.
Schroeder said no findings will be released until the public meeting. Federal disaster aid is available for work at Hiawatha, but the Park Board likely will need to come up with added money. Park officials have recently learned that that aid is not a one-time infusion, as they thought, but rather any future flood damage also will be federally reimbursed, spokeswoman Dawn Sommers said.
The Park Board adopted a plan for the reconfiguration of Meadowbrook course in St. Louis Park that shifted holes, added a driving range, and rerouted Minnehaha Creek in the area in partnership with the creek's watershed district. But the board rejected all bids this spring, and is pursuing a new design that costs less. Sommers said that green fees would have needed to be raised to uncompetitive levels to finance the planned design.The course was scheduled to reopen in 2018, according to the Park Board web site.