A revamped Meadowbrook Golf Course in St. Louis Park would reopen in 2017 with higher, drier and reconfigured greens and a new strategy to minimize future floods under a plan given preliminary approval by Minneapolis park commissioners Wednesday night.
The recommended option would be about 220 yards shorter than the course that was severely damaged by flooding after rainstorms last year, dropping par by one stroke to 71. The revised course was the option most preferred by golfers surveyed earlier this year, although they urged that the course be kept as close to the existing length as possible.
The $9.3 million plan relies on a $6.8 million loan, possibly a mortgage against the course or the headquarters of the Park Board, which owns the course. But the financing plan is about $659,000 short of the full debt payment, potentially requiring cuts in the project or finding the money elsewhere, according to a staff report.
About $4.4 million would come from golfer fees, estimated at $7 more per round, but another $2.4 million directed at watershed improvements would come from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. The creek and Meadowbrook Lake lie on the course’s eastern edge and were responsible for the flooding during the rainstorm. The district hasn’t committed to that amount but is working with park officials.
The course will have been closed for almost three years by the projected 2017 reopening. The Park Board is negotiating with federal authorities for disaster aid expected to range between $1.1 million and $1.7 million.
The rerouting of the course accommodates a new revenue-adding driving range that a consultant recommended before the storms, plus areas for stormwater ponds, trails and a more meandering creek that slows runoff, reduces sediment and increases wildlife habitat.
The watershed would pay for a trail connecting Excelsior Boulevard to the lake.
Course architect Kevin Norby said changes will return the course to a more classic design of the 1920s, when less earthmoving was used to sculpt courses. The rerouting is intended to keep at least nine holes in operation during any future flooding and ensure that the other nine holes are less prone to damage if they’re flooded.
Golf director Keith Kalny said the proposal means “an exciting new experience.” Commissioner John Erwin said he’s comfortable with the proposal as long as taxpayers don’t have to subsidize it.
Meadowbrook is one of four courses the Park Board operates outside the city limits. The others are Wirth in Golden Valley, Gross in St. Anthony and Fort Snelling.
Meanwhile, park staffers also are preparing three alternatives for restoring the 18-hole Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis, which was damaged in the same storm but kept nine playable holes open. Like the Meadowbrook alternatives, they’re expected to include restoring the old course, reducing it to nine holes, or improving the drainage and the course’s playability. But Norby warned that it’s not as feasible to prevent flooding of the Hiawatha course.