The Edina, Minn., municipal golf course, which is popular among senior and novice golfers, will close at the end of the season, despite petitions and legal challenges from the public. One city council member noted that the property is, at best, “a break-even operation,” and a public park would benefit more people in the community.
Fred Richards Golf Course in Edina, Minn., will close at the end of this season, despite petitions, legal challenges and pleas from golfers of all ages, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The Edina City Council voted 3-2 on March 18 to close “The Fred.” In the end, financial pressures on the city’s municipal golf operations trumped pleas to find a way to save the municipal golf course, the Tribune reported.
Mayor Jim Hovland and Council Member Mary Brindle dissented, with Hovland saying that he sensed the relatively fast process to close the golf course had shaken “the trust and confidence of the public,” the Tribune reported.
“This isn’t to say I endorse keeping it open,” Hovland said. “But there’s a rush to judgment here.”
Hovland proposed taking a year to involve the public in the issue. Perhaps raising rates would help, he said. The Fred, a course that is a favorite with seniors, novice golfers and kids, Hovland said, is an asset in a city that is promoting itself as a healthy place to live, the Tribune reported.
Brindle agreed, suggesting the city delay closing the course until it is clear how costly conversion to a new park would be, the Tribune reported.
Other council members pointed to the costs for a sport that is shrinking in popularity. Braemar Golf Course, the more difficult of the city’s two courses, badly needs renovation. Edina’s golf courses require a $485,000 annual subsidy from municipal liquor store profits, the Tribune reported.
Member Josh Sprague pointed out that The Fred was, at best, “a break-even operation” and a park would benefit more people, the Tribune reported.
Sprague, Joni Bennett and Ann Swenson voted to close The Fred at the end of the season. With Hovland abstaining, the council also voted to start a master plan, involving neighbors, city officials and the park board, to convert the course. Members unanimously supported creating a master plan for Braemar and making improvements there, the Tribune reported.
Opponents had tried to get the state to require an environmental assessment of changes at the golf course site. The state Environmental Quality Board booted the issue back to the city, where the council voted not to do the assessment, the Tribune reported.
Many of the Fred’s defenders have said they suspect the closure is linked to needing the site to treat stormwater for the planned redevelopment of Pentagon Park across the street. City officials have denied that there is any connection, and say the land will be kept as public property, the Tribune reported.
C&RB reported on the city’s planned discussions of golf course operations with the public (“Edina (Minn.) Prepares for Public Discussion of Golf Courses“).