Hiawatha Golf Course plan consistent with regional policy, Met Council finds

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2023

3 people watching a 4th person swing on a golf course on a sunny day.On March 22, the Metropolitan Council approved an amendment to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s long-range plan for Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park. The Met Council and its Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission determined the amendment is consistent with regional park policies.

“The Met Council has a deep respect for local decision making,” said Robert Lilligren, chair of the Met Council’s Community Development Committee. “We rely on the hard work of the park agencies that own and operate the regional parks to do the planning with local communities and resolve any issues. Our role is to ensure their plans are consistent with our Regional Parks Policy Plan.”

Plan responds to long-term flooding problems at park

The amendment, also known as the Hiawatha Golf Course Area Plan, calls for:

  • Redevelopment of the current 18-hole golf course into a 9-hole golf course, driving range, and practice facilities
  • A variety of multi-use and pedestrian trails, allowing for a complete loop around Lake Hiawatha and connections to the regional park and neighborhoods
  • Improved community gathering opportunities
  • Preserved open space on the northwest side of the site
  • Protected wildlife habitat
  • A landscape, once a small lake and wetlands complex, guided by improved water management

The Minneapolis park board developed the plan after a severe flood in 2014 led to closure of the golf course for several months, and after multi-year water management study and planning work. The board created the final plan through a comprehensive public engagement process spanning more than two years, including guidance from a Community Advisory Committee. The committee developed a vision and guiding principles and prioritized plan element recommendations for the site. The board approved the final plan in September 2022.

Hiawatha Golf Course Area Plan, including the site history (PDF)

Met Council role in reviewing park agency plans

Under state law, the Met Council is required to review the long-range plans for regional parks and trails developed by regional park agencies in the metro area. Among the policies and criteria that we use in our reviews are park boundaries, acquisition costs, demand forecasts, whether the plan clearly lays out the development proposal, public engagement, and equity — which communities were engaged, what they said, and how the park agency responded in the proposal.

Once the Met Council approves a park’s long-range plan, it becomes eligible for regional funding. That said, golfing is not considered an eligible regional activity and therefore not eligible for regional funding. However, other features of the proposed facilities in the Hiawatha plan would be eligible for regional funding.

Video: Discussion at the March 22 Met Council meeting

Met Council’s overall role in the regional parks system

The Minnesota Legislature has given the Met Council responsibility for long-range planning for four regional systems: water resources; transportation, including the regional airports system; and regional parks. We develop the Regional Parks Policy Plan, which is updated at least every 4 years.

We also help fund the system and are the fiscal agent for state and regional funding that supports regional parks and trails. We match every three dollars of state bonding funds with two dollars of regional funds, and we similarly match land-acquisition funding. We conduct research on the regional parks system and help preserve its integrity through the review of local comprehensive land use plans.

More about this region’s treasured regional parks

Posted In: Parks