Letter to MPRB President Meg Forney


Hello president Forney,
I am writing to express my concern regarding the Darwin Lehman proposal for Hiawatha Golf Course and the Park Board's intention to entertain this proposal in a public meeting on April 6th. We are asking for equal time before the board to present our hopes for the future of Lake Hiawatha as well.

As you know I went to attend the “public” presentation by the Darwin Lehman group at your recommendation, but Friends of Lake Hiawatha were not allowed to be present to witness the proposal and had no opportunity to ask questions. That is because we were removed and blocked without explanation from the zoom discussion before it began. This despite the presentation being billed as a "public discussion”.
I was able to watch the meeting shortly after it concluded on YouTube. https://youtu.be/6nu9JfNFvyc?t=460

As the chair of Friends of Lake Hiawatha, I am dismayed by this ecologically disastrous plan which expands golf and in all practicality destroys Lake Hiawatha. The community is responding with outrage at the Darwin Lehman proposal because of the drastic measures it proposes which are even more aggressive than the MPRB's original destruction of Rice Lake and its wetland complex in 1929. This is not a representation of any local constituency I know of. I choose to believe that any local community constituency including Black golfers would never support a plan to destroy Lake Hiawatha, in this, the City of Lakes.
The Darwin Lehman plan proposes to drain Lake Hiawatha of "60 acres of water", This plan massively expands the pumping operation to include not only the sunken golf course but the additional acreage of Lake Hiawatha itself. The plan separates Minnehaha Creek from Lake Hiawatha and would destroy existing habitat and displace or eliminate existing wildlife residents, obliterating a critical stop for migrating birds on the Mississippi River Flyway. In the Darwin Lehman plan, what is currently Lake Hiawatha would be reduced to a "dry reserve floodplain” and a remnant wetland only to be filled in the event of a ten year flood event. There is no mention of addressing pollution.

We have heard that this group will be allowed to present their proposal to the full board of the MPRB on April 6th.
if the board will indeed hear this plan then it is only fair that equal time be given to other views as well.
If the Lehman group is allowed to present their plan will you allow equal time to FOLH and associated groups to present their vision to the Park Board at sometime before the full board votes on the Hiawatha Golf Course Property Masterplan?

FOLH has never been allowed to make a presentation to the board at a public meeting. We have always been limited to the 90 seconds to three minutes allowed at “open time” to make our case.
We can assemble a compelling presentation. We can offer our recommendations for changes to the Hiawatha Masterplan. We can share our knowledge of the ecology of Lake Hiawatha and share the work we have done.
let me know your thoughts on our suggestion and I am available to speak on the phone.

With respect and appreciation,
Sean Connaughty and FOLH


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