Edina is looking at addition through subtraction at the city-owned Braemar Golf Course.
The city is moving ahead with a project to rebuild the course, reducing the number of holes from 27 to 18. That will open up land for other potential uses, including the leading contender right now: a winter sports area with man-made snow that could offer tubing, a lighted cross-country ski trail, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking.
The cost, “a very rough estimate,” would be around $3 million, according to Ann Kattreh, the city’s parks and recreation director.
The City Council recently committed to spending about $130,000 for a feasibility study of the project, which will be presented to the city’s Park Board in August.
The proposal is the work of the Minnetonka design and engineering firm SEH, which also is conducting the feasibility study. If built, the project would be funded through a bond issue.
“As we look at this opportunity with the Braemar Golf Course under construction, it was determined that if we are ever going to do anything with man-made snow there, this was the time to do it,” Kattreh said.
“There are a lot of residents that are excited about having another winter recreation opportunity in Edina that isn’t necessarily dependent on whether there is natural snow.”
Hyland Park in Bloomington, Elm Creek Park in Maple Grove and Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis currently offer man-made snow on cross-country trails in the Twin Cities area.
Kattreh said that the high school ski team would benefit from an additional training area, since the ski trails it uses near the school have been disrupted by school construction and the creation of a regional walking and biking trail.
Beyond the improved recreation opportunities, Edina foresees some potential revenue gains through rental of winter sports equipment.
The proposal also could boost wintertime business at the Tin Fish restaurant at Braemar, which pays the city 15 percent of its gross sales.
The Park Board has reviewed the proposal and members were generally enthusiastic, according to comments compiled by city staffers at a recent meeting.
Park Board Member Koren Nelson commented that her family “is not a hockey family … everything winter in Edina is hockey, so it’s nice to see something that is not just hockey and encourages people to try something different.”
Brenda McCormick, the Park Board chairwoman, noted that the group has long wanted “to maximize the space [at Braemar] and make it more like a park, more open to nongolfers. This is a great opportunity to at least look at it.”
Park Board members did raise concerns about parking availability, as well as noise and lighting issues that could affect neighbors.
And Kattreh cautioned that the winter sports proposal is no slam-dunk.
“There is the larger conversation about how this ranks among priorities in the city of Edina in capital spending,” she said. “It’s about the larger picture and how this fits into the larger priorities.”
The next step in the process is an open house, scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 13 at the city’s Public Works Department, 7450 Metro Blvd. The City Council plans to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its first meeting in September.