But park officials said they are committed to doing more than a simple restoration to get the Hiawatha and Meadowbrook courses, which together suffered $3.5 million in damages last June, back in operation.
Golfers in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul (Minn.) Twin Cities area who have been mourning the closure of the Hiawatha and Meadowbrook public golf courses got bad news at an update meeting, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, when they heard that the courses aren’t likely to reopen until at least 2017, after suffering $3.5 million in flood damage last June (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2014/06/27/flooding-closes-two-minneapolis-courses/).
But the upside, the Star Tribune reported, is that Minneapolis park officials, supported by an overflow crowd of 100 golfers who attended the meeting, say they are committed to doing more than a simple restoration. When the courses are brought back on stream, the officials said, they want them to not only be more flood-resistant, but also offer improved playing conditions and boast better facilities.
These grander plans, however, will require additional money beyond the federal aid that can be obtained through flood-recovery assistance, the Star Tribune reported. And while the details of the planned improvements haven’t yet been defined, they should be better known by February 2, when the Park Board has committed to knowing more specifics.
“That’s very disappointing, but it’s something we have to live with,” Douglas Stewart, secretary-treasurer of the Meadowbrook Men’s Golf Club, said of the delay in reopening courses.
Stewart and other golfers said they are willing to live with the delays in exchange for better courses, the Star Tribune reported. “For six months more work, they would double, triple the quality of those courses,” Stewart said.
Nancy Manning, a Meadowbrook golfer, noted that there is a lot at stake in how the courses are rebuilt. “If we miss this opportunity to bring these courses back to where they could be, we’ll really blow it,” she told the Star Tribune.
As part of trying to figure out how to finance the improvements, the Park Board’s Assistant Superintendent, Michael Schroeder, reported that a draft agreement has been reached with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, which finances water quality and stormwater control projects. The creek flows by both courses, and the district already has done flood-control work upstream from Meadowbrook and plans more, the Star Tribune reported. Some also see a potential role for the Three Rivers Park District at Meadowbrook.
“[The courses are] a great place for nature to store stormwater when there’s a lot of it,” noted Jeff Spartz, the watershed’s interim manager. Even basic restoration work will require large amounts of money to bring back 111 acres of dead grass, six drowned greens and 98 trees, plus washed-out cart paths, that was part of the final toll that the flooding took on the two courses, the Star Tribune reported.
The question of spending more money on the two courses comes after the release of consultant’s report early last year that made recommendations for how to improve golf course conditions and use for all seven of the Park Board’s courses (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2014/02/13/consultant-recommends-34m-improvements-minneapolis-courses/). Rounds played at the seven courses, the report noted, dropped in half between 2000 and 2013. To begin to turnaround the trend, $34.5 million in spending was recommended to bring the courses up to par, with $14 million of that identified as critical.
Superintendent Jayne Miller, who has a background in golf management, said she thinks the park system could keep all courses but its nine-hole course at Fort Snelling, the Star Tribune reported. She wants to offer a range of courses, from beginner to championship, and has ambitions for Meadowbrook to become one of the top performers among the seven.
But Meadowbrook already ranks first among the seven courses in its financial needs, at $8.9 million, according to the consultant, which recommended a hefty increase in greens fees for Meadowbrook even before the flooding, along with a clubhouse renovation and expansion, better maintenance facilities and a driving range.
The consultant’s report also estimated that Hiawatha needed $6.2 million in upgrades, having a substandard clubhouse, irrigation and drainage issues, and other needed renovations.
Schroeder said that Meadowbrook won’t be sold for housing or other redevelopment, the Star Tribune reported, and added that he wants design concepts for the courses’ restoration presented to the Park Board in March.