At least, there’ll still be golf.
A new era at Hiawatha Golf Club is about to tee off — with a smaller course surrounded by wetlands and park space.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted Wednesday night to drastically reduce the amount of water pumped off the grounds, meaning that much of the current course would be waterlogged.
“While not the ideal solution … it’s a compromise … not perfect but honors the past and looks forward to the future,” said Commissioner Jono Cowgill.
Reducing the pumping from the current 262 million gallons a year to 94 million means more wetlands and less managed turf grass. The land could be turned into a nine-hole course.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to get an 18-hole configuration,” said Michael Schroeder, the Park Board’s assistant superintendent of planning.
The 6-2 decision caps a yearslong contentious dispute, with golfers and supporters fighting to keep the course as it is.
Before the vote, Commissioner Latrisha Vetaw added an amendment to include at least a nine-hole course and to recognize the history of black golfers there as a compromise.
The new pumping scenario is expected to keep nearby homes dry, but many residents questioned Wednesday night whether that’s true. They say the current pumping scenario is keeping homes near the course dry.
The water problems came to a head when the course closed after torrential rains flooded it in 2014. But that only added to an existing problem: The course sits about 2 feet below the level of Lake Hiawatha. Most of the water that is pumped off is shallow groundwater, followed by seepage from the lake and stormwater runoff.
“I want what’s best for my neighborhood even if that means closing the golf course, but I’m not convinced we are making the decision on accurate information,” said Jason Tarasek.
Commissioner Steffanie Musich said the board cannot guarantee that residents won’t have flood damage “because that’s not a realistic promise.”
Now, a community advisory group will study what the space will look at with reduced pumping and present their ideas to the board.
Early numbers showed that reconfiguring the golf course as a park was expected to cost $28 million, according to Park Board estimates from last summer.