Hiawatha Golf Club in Minneapolis may not close as soon as planned.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board had decided to close the course after the 2019 season to resolve groundwater problems. But at a recent meeting, board members raised the idea of putting off the closure until a new plan for the park is complete.
They did not approve a new timeline, but many board members and park staff noted the plans to close the 18-hole course upset homeowners, golfers and the public.
“People were nervous about the time frame we set out,” Assistant Park Superintendent Michael Schroeder said. “Our goal is to complete our master plan and have enough direction so we can move forward.”
The Park Board decided in August to reduce groundwater pumping at the golf course in line with a recommendation by the state Department of Natural Resources. The course would then be too soggy to play, prompting the 2019 closure.
Until plans are finalized, the Park Board said it’s working with the DNR to get a temporary permit to keep pumping at its current rate — 242 million gallons of water annually.
Luke Skinner, the director of ecological and water resources for the DNR, said his agency is concerned about the level of groundwater the Park Board has been pumping.
“We want them to take the time they need to figure out how to manage this long-term,” Skinner said. “We’ve not put a timeline on the permit, but we might have some limitation about how long we can issue a temporary permit.”
Park Board Member Steffanie Musich, who represents the area that includes Hiawatha Golf Club, introduced the idea of a delayed closing Tuesday, adding the item to the board’s agenda at the meeting.
Park planners noted that removing the 2019 date would give the Park Board time to figure out what to do with the site and find money to pay for any changes once the course closes.
But Musich said continuing to pump at the current level while park planners figure out a clear plan is a bad move.
“The perpetuation of an 18-hole golf course here is impossible because we’re causing the ground to sink,” Musich said.
The water problems at Hiawatha became clear in 2014 when the course flooded after torrential rains. Another Park Board golf course damaged in that storm, Meadowbrook in Hopkins, recently reopened following repairs.
Park Board members did not say when they will take up the Hiawatha closure timeline again. The next board meeting is Oct. 4.