GOLF COURSES

Demand for land, water is out of proportion

In response to the Feb. 18 Letter of the Day concerning golf in Minneapolis, I would like to point out that Theodore Wirth was developing parks for the era, and that if he were building the park system now, his view for community usage would be quite different. He believed in a diversity of activities, from birding to hiking, skiing and swimming.

Golf has been on national and local decline for the past quarter-century, and even the experts agree on that. Minneapolis has seven courses and three driving ranges in its system, with golf dominating half of Wirth Park’s 760 acres. I believe the city should offer golf but should look to Wirth’s original intention of bringing green space and recreation to the general public. Recreation attitudes have changed, and it would be wise to consider uses that reflect that.

WILLIAM O’REILLY, Minneapolis

• • •

I read the Feb. 16 article “Drought sparks big fire risk in California” while on the TV the PGA Northern Trust tournament was being played on lush greens at the Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. How could water be used for the golf course when farmers don’t have enough water to plant food crops?

This question is relevant to every community with a golf course. Golf courses do aid the economy of many communities, but can we afford their lushness? California can’t — so the Riviera planted a noxious weed — drought-resistant Kikuyu grass from Africa. Do Minnesota courses use drought-resistant grasses?

BRUNO S. GAD, Clear Lake, Minn.

 

GOLDEN VALLEY

Group home opposition was mischaracterized

I was annoyed by two recent articles that characterized Golden Valley as narrow-minded and heartless regarding neighborhood group homes and mental-health facilities. There are dozens of such facilities in Golden Valley; at least one is in my neighborhood. Some neighborhoods have more than one.

What the citizens of Golden Valley dislike is the apparent lack of control and oversight that they and the city have over such facilities, and the secrecy surrounding them. Furthermore, has anyone investigated LifeSpan, the company that has made the current request? What do we know about it, its methods and its track record? It may or may not be stellar.

The Star Tribune could be more helpful by providing information, not emotion, on its noneditorial pages.

JANE PAGENKOPF, Golden Valley

 

ADVANCED PLACEMENT

Critical thinking is decidedly encouraged

A Feb. 17 letter argued against the usefulness of Advanced Placement classes on the grounds that they promote mindless memorization in preparation for testing. As a student in five of these classes and as one who has taken these tests, I believe that nothing is further from the truth.

While there is a multiple-choice component in nearly all AP tests that requires a certain level of memorization, half of each individual test revolves around some combination of essays or free-response questions. These require not only a knowledge of facts, but also the ability to grasp overarching concepts and patterns.

In the various fields of history, students must not only retain facts but also interpret the implications of historical events. In Advanced Placement calculus and chemistry, they not only must know basic equations but also demonstrate critical-thinking skills in order to use the equations to achieve the desired result. A certain amount of memorization is involved, but pure memorization alone does not help a student comprehend the intricacies of photosynthesis or cellular respiration.

Overall, Advanced Placement courses provide an opportunity to learn and interpret information at a collegiate level. Students up to the challenge will find their high school experience vastly enriched.

ERIK UBEL, St. Paul

 

RANKED-CHOICE VOTING

It just left a lot for voters to take in

In the analysis of ranked-choice voting, the most important change not discussed is the elimination of narrowing the field to two candidates and the effect on voters who now have to choose among eight serious candidates, as in the Minneapolis mayor’s race.

A higher filing fee may have eliminated most of the other 27 who filed in 2013 but would not have changed the number of serious candidates and or the task of evaluating the multiple positions of each.

The numerous candidate forums found the eight narrowing down most issues to a few 60-second sound bites. This left many voters uninterested, as well as most of the media, who spent more time ridiculing the fact there were 35 candidates.

To evaluate so-called results in council races on three new minority groups not being represented ignores the obvious fact of the Native American and African-American candidates who lost those races.

The real question is whether the process allowed a proper evaluation by most voters.

BOB FINE, Minneapolis

 

The writer, a former member of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, was a candidate for mayor in 2013.