Teresa Engstrom

Teresa Engstrom

You might have read about the fight to save the Hiawatha Golf Club, a public course in South Minneapolis. There are debates over flooding and the allowable amount of water to pump each year.

The untold story is that the city itself is to blame for the problem.

In 2012, Minneapolis city officials separated the storm sewer from the sanitary sewer in that part of the city and sent the storm water into the ponds on Hiawatha Golf Course. They didn’t perform a proper review of the impact before dumping another 66 million gallons per year onto the property. As a result, in 2014, the course flooded much worse than it would have prior to the changes.

Why did they not send that storm water to the Mississippi River like in much of the rest of Minneapolis? We don’t know. Facts are being glossed over, and all agencies are citing other agencies, rather than stopping the buck.

The Star Tribune has a hard time getting the story, because the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources isn’t talking anymore — after losing the White Bear Lake case to local homeowners. And the city and park officials keep citing the DNR in their decision making. What’s more, elected officials are misrepresenting facts in an effort to garner votes from people unaffected in this matter.

But, the fact is, we don’t need to lose an affordable, all-are-welcome activity that has been part of South Minneapolis since 1934.

The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board wants us to believe that its solution is the only option for sustainable water management. They want us to believe that by flooding the golf course, we can have more amenities.

But what they aren’t saying is that we can have all of those things and still keep the golf course. We don’t have to flood it.

Here are the two alternatives. Let’s remove the smoke and mirrors and talk about the truth:

FLOOD THE GOLF COURSE

This option would:

• Reduce pumping 70 percent.

• Add a food forest for the homeless and needy.

• Offer canoe rentals, paved trails, possibly a cafe and other concessions.

• Shell out $28 million in taxpayer money, not including maintenance and upkeep.

• Risk flooding the basements of nearby homes, which could incur further tax spending. There is no precedence in Minnesota — or the nation — for cities purposely flooding homes without eminent domain.

• Create an attractive location for the homeless community and, via the food forest, a liability for the city. Imagine a kid biting an apple with a bee on it.

• Reduce property values.

• Bring streets full of cars.

• Deny golfers an in-the-city place for their recreation. We aren’t ripping out tennis courts or swimming pools, too.

• Discontinue nine high school golf teams. Travel becomes too far for after-school practice, and Fort Snelling, at nine holes, is too small.

• Enlarge Lake Hiawatha, creating a cesspool for the city.

KEEP THE GOLF COURSE

This option would:

• Keep pumping.

• Buy time for the city to get that storm water to the river.

• Sustain revenue for the park board that helps pay for other parks.

• Maintain property values without question.

• Not risk flooding homes.

• Avoid causing environmental damage, according to Barr Engineering.

• Keep the golfers as the “eyes of the neighborhood,” reducing opportunities for crime.

• Retain a course favored by many African-American golfers.

• Preserve a historic location.

I am just one person. I am the homeowner whose house is pictured in the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board diagram explaining how the lake level and the pumping affects water in basements. I am not a golfer, but when I began educating myself on the issues and discovered the half-truths and false assumptions that closing the golf course was built upon, I became angry at the machine that is our bureaucracy.

The DNR admits there have not been enough studies of groundwater issues for them to know the correct actions to take. But the park board voted to proceed to stop the pumps and close the golf course anyway.

And we need the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to weigh in on solutions that won’t risk flooding homes, just as it has done for businesses in the suburbs.

But we have time. The pumps will not stop for at least two years.

The park board has five members who are lame ducks not running for re-election. We, the citizens of Minneapolis, must pay attention to the candidates’ positions on Hiawatha Golf Course and vote accordingly in November.

What can you do?

Go to our website at SaveHiawatha18.com or our Facebook page “Save Hiawatha Golf” and learn about the issue and what the candidates say about it.

Vote to save the golf course. Attend the polls Nov. 7. Any Minneapolis citizen can vote to save this golf course. The City Council and the mayor can save this golf course.

Confront the candidates for mayor, City Council and especially the park board. Ask them to take a stand and support saving the golf course.

If you don’t, the lies will win. Property values will decline. Taxes will increase. And basements will flood. Please help the small homeowners win the battle against the municipal authorities. Together, we are better, and we can win!

Teresa Engstrom is a homeowner from South Minneapolis. She resides in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Her son, Tim Engstrom, is the editor of the Lakeshore Weekly News. She submitted this guest commentary just like any reader can.

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