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MPRB presents five scenarios for Hiawatha Golf Course

Posted on 24 April 2017 by calvin

Five scenarios being studied for Hiawatha Golf Course:
Alternative 1 – Existing Conditions: 18 hole golf course, current pumping; affects one house
Alternative 2 – No groundwater pumping, berm in-place; other park use, pumping to manage stormwater only; affects 9-14 houses
Alternative 3 – Reduced pumping, berm in-place; other park use, reduced pumping to protect basements and manage stormwater; affects 0-4 houses
Alternative 4 – Reduced pumping, gravity-connection; other park use, reduced pumping to protect basements, gravity connection to Lake Hiawatha (no stormwater pumping required); affects 0-4 houses
Alternative 5 – Reduced pumping, gravity-connection, open channel and creek realignment; other park use, reduced pumping to protect basements, gravity connection to Lake Hiawatha (no stormwater pumping required), development of the open channel and realignment of Minnehaha Creek; affects 0-4 houses

Only one of five would keep 18-hole golf course while rest are a mix of pumping and park-use options

Of the five scenarios being evaluated for the Hiawatha Golf Course, only one would leave the golf course open. The other four would reduce the amount of pumping or not pump water off the land at all, and the site would be set aside for other park uses.

Currently, the golf course is open because 308 million gallons of water are being pumped into the lake and then seeped back onto the course in a repeating pattern.

No pumping would not only close the golf course but also potentially flood the basements of between 9-14 nearby homes. Reduced pumping options would affect up to 4 homes. (See at top of page for detailed information on scenarios.)

The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) intends to select a preferred scenario to pursue by July.

At an Apr. 20 community meeting, residents viewed diagrams which illustrated the spaces created by the varying levels of groundwater pumping, and how these layouts may affect certain uses within the park in the future. The majority of this meeting focused on developing ideas for potential uses within the park. (Check the June Messenger for an article on the April meeting, which just missed our publication deadline.)

Hiawatha Communit yEngagemen tDiagramPhoto left: At a Mar. 20 community meeting, attendees were asked to share their opinion on how the golf course land should be used moving forward by placing stickers on a diamond configuration. The graphic measures how many people support active versus passive use at the golf course property and nature-inspired design versus natural systems. (Photo submitted by MPRB)

\One scenario stops trash from ‘choking lake’
Only one of the proposed scenarios would effectively stop trash from “choking the lake,” according to Standish-Ericsson resident Sean Connaughty, who has removed 3,400 pounds of trash from Lake Hiawatha in the last year.

He pointed out that despite his efforts and those of other volunteers, trash remains in the lake and on its shores. “It comes from our streets,” he said.

While 90 participants have adopted 170 drains in the Lake Hiawatha watershed, Connaughty is pushing the city and MPRB to change how the storm sewer drains discharge directly into Lake Hiawatha.

“The most effective way to stop the trash and pollutants from reaching the lake is to create a catchment pond or ‘open channel’ in the line of the big north storm sewer pipe,” Connaughty said.

The big north pipe that currently runs into the lake would be diverted into an open water area outside the lake where trash and pollutants could be isolated and removed before they reach the lake. “I imagine the catchment pond or open channel would be surrounded by wetland that could help absorb and consume other pollutants before they reach the lake,” explained Connaughty.

MPRB is also considering a ‘gravity connection,’ so rather than pumping stormwater it would be allowed to flow naturally with gravity to the lake through wetlands.

“In this time of disappearing protections for our waters, something great could happen right here that would mean dramatic improvement for water quality and habitat preservation. But they (Parks) need to know this is what we want,” Connaughty said.

Moving forward
As the MPRB moves forward, it will factor in social, environmental and economic considerations to chart the future course of the site. Staff is working to identify ecological impacts, recreational impacts, economic impacts, and transportation/traffic impacts, as well as environmental regulations. Plus a review of cultural resources is being completed.

Next, Use Envision™ will be used to generate a sustainability score rating for each alternative considering, e.g., energy consumed and carbon dioxide produced, impacts on community health, and well-being

AutoCASE will help quantify costs and benefits of areas such as water quality, flood risks, recreational value, healthy and safety, and air quality.

As pumping alternatives are evaluated, the impacts to water quality and opportunities to reduce trash in stormwater are also being considered.

Resident opinions
Residents have a variety of opinions on the golf course property, and some wrote their thoughts down for the Park Board following the Mar. 20 community meeting.

One commenter pointed out that there are plenty of passive use and natural areas in South Minneapolis for residents to enjoy, including the Minnehaha Falls area. “Hiawatha Golf Course is the only one set in the heart of the city, and it is a gem,” the commenter wrote, adding that “golf is communing with nature while being a fun activity.”

Some residents continue to push for pesticide and chemical testing at the course arguing that the samples taken once in January of 2016 could not provide a full picture of what’s happening there.

Roxanne Stuhr of Friends of Lake Hiawatha asked that multiple sites be tested at multiple times of the year, not just when the ground is frozen.

“Identifying the chemicals and sharing them publicly will help to determine future uses,” Stuhr said.
Another commenter asked that alternatives to chemical herbicides and pesticides be used at the site, and that buffer zones be created for the bodies of water there. “Please create an effective mitigation system to capture and divert trash and pollutants to keep them out of the lake,” wrote the resident, who also pushed for a land use that would limit foot traffic and protect habitat and ecosystems.

“As a Minneapolis residents, I am interested in seeing progressive alternatives to maintaining park lands,” said Anna Seewald. “If supporting a golf course is unsustainable in light of the current environmental conditions then I feel that it’s time to move away from that and to use the land in a way that makes sense for the community while considering a sustainable way to maintain the land.”

Seewald supports the idea of a food forest and light recreation on the property. “However, I do not support the current amount of pumping to maintain the golf course.”

MPRB considers food forest
Earlier in March, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) sent out a press release stressing that Food Forest concept is a proposed idea from an organized group of residents, and is separate from the approved Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan.

“Urban agriculture was not identified as a priority during the recently completed year-and-a-half master planning process for the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park, and the final, approved plan did not include any agricultural zones within the Hiawatha Park,” pointed out MPRB representatives. “The prevailing sentiment among the Community Advisory Committee and public commentary was that the park should have more naturalization and habitat for wildlife.

“Hiawatha Park could be a place for a planned orchard and urban agriculture zone, but it would be disrespectful to all the people who worked on the current master plan to move forward with an amendment without additional engagement. It would also be out of line with MPRB’s dedication to broad and meaningful community engagement.”

MPRB is currently considering two amendments to the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan:
1) Consideration on of a recommended design concept for the Nokomis Athletic field
2) The inclusion of a designated urban agriculture area along the east side of Lake Hiawatha

These items will be discussed during an open house on Thur., May 25. See the MPRB project page for more details as they are available.

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