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Hiawatha Golf Course CAC members seek clarification from MPRB

Posted on 28 May 2018 by calvin

Majority of committee members want all options on the table—not just reduced pumping scenarios

The Hiawatha Golf Course Community Advisory Committee (CAC) wants to be able to explore all uses at the golf course for the future, including maintaining the current level of pumping.

At the CAC meeting on April 30, members voted 9-6 to bring this issue back to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners. The vote was done by a show of hands at the end of a meeting that went over an hour past the advertised end time.

The exact motion was as follows: The Hiawatha Golf Course Community Advisory Committee is requesting the Board of Commissioners to respectfully clarify the existing Resolution 2017-243 to include the exploration of all uses related to a reduced pumping scenario and for all uses related to a circumstance that would perpetuate the current pumping situation.

“Some members of the CAC felt the language provided by the MPRB was vague or contradictory to what they were being told verbally,” explained CAC Chair David Kaplan via email. “So the interest was to get clarification from the MPRB or DNR on the pumping question once and for all.”

Photo right: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board staff member Deb Pilger answers questions about the permit at Lake Hiawatha Golf Course that is issued by the DNR for irrigation. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

While the title of the MPRB resolution calls for a reduced pumping scenario, the rest of the resolution seems to indicate that an 18-hole golf course might fit within the scope of the project, pointed out CAC member Kathryn Kelly, appointed by an at-large commissioner. She pushed for a clarification on the CAC charge at both the Mar. 30 and the Apr. 30 meetings.

The golf course is currently pumping 242 million gallons of water each year in a circular fashion to keep water from flooding the course, although it only has a permit through the Minnesota DNR for 36.5 million for irrigation.

Discussion about options
The 18-member CAC includes Kaplan, Kelly, Anne Painter, Chakra Sankaraiah, Craig Nichols, Damon LeFlore, Duane Whittaker, Joan Soholt, Matt Hilgart, Nathan Shepherd, Roxanne Stuhr, Sean Connaughty, Sean Keir, Sheila Terryll, Tara Olds, Teresa Engstrom, Tim Clemens, and William Means.

Some CAC members felt that that the charge from the MPRB was too vague because it didn’t reference the Scenario B figure (from planning in 2017) that would reduce pumping by 70%. Therefore, members could look at a plan to reduce pumping by 1 liter, and it would be in accordance with the resolution, explained Kaplan.

“Others felt the issue had been addressed, and the CAC was not the right body to review or question the science and engineering previously looked at by the MPRB and staff—that the intent of the MPRB was clear last fall to reduce pumping to the lower level, even if the language was poorly constructed,” said Kaplan.

“I don’t know what I want this space to be, but I want the options open,” stated CAC member Matt Hilgart, who was appointed by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association.

Photo left: Resident Monica McNaughton pointed out, “We don’t know the answers to many questions.” She questioned why planning was being done when the full scope of the problem isn’t understood. “These are people’s lives we’re affecting,” McNaughton stated. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Fellow CAC member Nicols, the Northrop School parent representative, also expressed his desire to consider all options. He pointed out, “It’s a completely different park board” now due to the November election as compared to last August when the motion was passed.

“My opinion has, and always has been, that we need to review the use of the parcel for its fundamental intended purpose—as an Administrative FEMA Flood Plain used to protect homes in the neighborhood and downriver. This is a role it serves,” said Kaplan. “Once that is addressed, then, and only then, do we look at what recreational activity can or should go on the space.”

Public comment taken at MPRB meetings
The MPRB of Commissioners is expected to address the issue at its June 8 meeting, although that agenda won’t be finalized until June 1.

All board meetings offer open time, starting at 5:30 p.m., for the public to voice comments directly to the commissioners.

The next CAC meeting, initially scheduled for May 30, has been postponed until the MPRB Commissioners have addressed the issue.

Firm to be hired
In the meantime, MPRB staff is negotiating a professional services agreement with the Barr Engineering/Berger Partnership design team.

This team will assist in creating a master plan for the golf course property.

An action will go before the Board of Commissioners in June for approval of the consulting contract.

MPRB Project Manager Tyler Pederson pointed out that the CAC is moving from a water management alternative to a master plan. A water management alternative provides a narrow focus that looks at water resources and is a starting point to figure out what is feasible. A master planning lens looks at the big picture, explained Pederson.

Through the process, a set of clear concept plans will be created and assessed, and CAC members will select the preferred one.

DNR permit for five years
MPRB is also applying for a temporary permit from the DNR to pump additional water from the golf course. This permit must be re-evaluated each year, and will only be extended for up to five years, stated MPRB Assistant Superintendent of Planning Services Michael Schroeder.

“They’re allowing us to continue pumping until we come up with a different way,” he stated.

During these five years, the MPRB will make annual reports and investigate the integrity of the earthen berm along the lakeshore.

The Minnesota DNR manages 16,000 permits for pumping water in the state, as any entity pumping more than 10,000 gallons a day or 1 million gallons a year needs a permit.

The highest active permit is 235,000 million gallons per year by a nuclear power plant. The highest golf courses permitted to pump over 150 million gallons per year (MGY) for irrigation are Lutsen, Bunker Hills, and Pebble Creek. Generally, the uses that pump between 220 and 300 MGY are construction dewatering, mining, municipal water supply, pollution contaminant, agriculture, power generation and petroleum, chemical and metal processing.

Opinions, comments shared
During the Apr. 30 meeting, time was taken to listen to questions and comments from commissioners, as well as meeting attendees.

CAC member Connaughty, appointed by the Friends of Lake Hiawatha, questioned whether trash mitigation at the stormwater sewer pipe that drains into Lake Hiawatha is being delayed for five years while the MPRB creates a master plan for the golf course property.

Connaughty pointed out that a five-year delay will mean that an additional 10,000 pounds of trash will enter the lake.

CAC member Soholt, appointed by the Hale Page Diamond Lake Community Association, wondered where all the water is coming from that is filling Lake Hiawatha and neighboring areas. “What will happen to the floodplain if we fill that up with more water?” Soholt asked.

Stuhr, appointed by the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association, pointed out that neighboring homes affect the area water issues. “Each of our personal watersheds is contributing to the larger watershed,” she said. “So what we do on our own properties has an effect not only on our own home but on our neighbor’s.” She requested more information on water quality issues.

Resident Monica McNaughton pointed out, “We don’t know the answers to many questions.” She questioned why planning was being done when the full scope of the problem isn’t understood. “These are people’s lives we’re affecting,” McNaughton stated.

MPRB staff took notes on each question and comment, and will return with an FAQ sheet that addresses the issues raised.

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