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Minneapolis Park Board rejects Hiawatha Golf Course redesign

The most recent plan gained more traction with current commissioners, who viewed it as an environmentally responsible thing to do.
Credit: KARE
Hiawatha Golf Course in Minneapolis July 2021

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Park Board rejected a redesign of the Hiawatha Golf Course that would have removed the existing 18-hole course, and replaced it with a new 9-hole version with more natural landscaping.

According to a release from the Minneapolis Park Board, the course will remain 18 holes, however, the Board unanimously approved renaming the Hiawatha Clubhouse to the Solomon Hughes Sr. Clubhouse.

The last time the Parks Board considered shrinking the course six years ago, the public outcry led them to back off the idea. The most recent proposal gained more traction with current commissioners, who viewed it as an environmentally responsible thing to do.

Currently it takes a mammoth effort to keep the course dry. The Board uses underground pumps to remove more than 300 million gallons of ground water each year and send it into Lake Hiawatha. The landscape engineering that was done to create the course included a berm which makes it harder for rainwater to drain, a feature that has contributed to flooding in major rain events.

Before it was a golf course the Hiawatha site was park land, which was often covered with surface water from rains. In a feat of geoengineering the parks system dredged Lake Hiawatha to make it deeper and used dirt and sand to raise the level of the land next to it. But much of that organic material has been compressed over the years, and without underground pumping parts of the course would be marshy.