Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

Resolution
2017-243

Resolution Directing Staff to Apply for a Groundwater Appropriations Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conforming to a Reduced Groundwater Pumping Scenario and Further Directing Staff to Organize a Process of Amending the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan to Accommodate Changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course Property Made Necessary by the Reduced Groundwater Pumping Scenario

Information

Department:Strategic PlanningSponsors:
Category:Appropriations

Item Discussion

Whereas, The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) is the steward of Minneapolis parks;

 

Whereas, Hiawatha Golf Course is a part of the Minneapolis park system and a component of the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park;

 

Whereas, During the course of considering concepts for the remediation and possible reconfiguration of Hiawatha Golf Course following sustained flood conditions in Summer 2014, the MPRB became aware that a significant volume of groundwater is being pumped by MPRB-owned facilities from the golf course property into Lake Hiawatha;

 

Whereas, The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), according to Minnesota Statute 103G.287 (Groundwater Appropriations), has authority for review and permitting of groundwater pumping;

 

Whereas, The pumping of groundwater is part of a system of storm water and groundwater controls implemented on Hiawatha Golf Course during the 1990s, a portion of which is used for irrigation of the golf course and is permitted by the DNR, however, other pumps and the volume pumped does not conform to the groundwater appropriations permit issued to the MPRB by the DNR;

 

Whereas, The MPRB engaged Barr Engineering Company (Barr) to investigate conditions related to groundwater pumping and its effects on Hiawatha Golf Course and surrounding properties, and the City of Minneapolis (City) engaged Barr to investigate storm water conditions in the areas surrounding and including Hiawatha Golf Course, and both agencies engaged Barr to develop alternatives for water management that would consider a range of groundwater pumping scenarios;

 

Whereas, Barr prepared a series of water management alternatives and in concert with MPRB and City staff performed an initial screening of alternatives that identified two alternatives for more thorough assessments of property impacts, regulatory approval potential, water quality and other ecological improvements, opportunities for use (including perpetuation of the 18-hole golf course), and sustainability, and for preparation of an analysis of costs and benefits;

 

Whereas, The water management alternatives include a scenario that continues groundwater pumping at the current volume of 242 million gallons annually and that allows the 18-hole golf course to be perpetuated and a scenario that reduces groundwater pumping to 94 million gallons annually but does not allow for the 18-hole golf course to be perpetuated; both water management alternatives were developed to protect nearby private properties from groundwater impacts;

 

Whereas, MPRB and City staff conducted public meetings on March 30, 2017, April 20, 2017, May 18, 2017, and June 21, 2017, to share information related to pumping investigations and water management alternatives, to discuss possible other uses should an 18-hole golf course not be possible to perpetuate, and to gain input on directions related to the two water management alternatives;

 

Whereas, The water management alternatives have been shared with regulatory authorities including the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Metropolitan Council, City of Minneapolis, and the DNR to identify concerns related to regulatory conformance and implementation;

 

Whereas, The DNR indicated its preference for a reduced groundwater pumping scenario, considering it protects nearby private properties and recognizing its significant ecologic benefits that are not possible in scenarios that continue groundwater pumping at the current volume;

 

Whereas, The reduced pumping scenario requires the MPRB to apply for a groundwater appropriations permit from the DNR, and while the permit is being reviewed the DNR has indicated it will allow the MPRB to continue groundwater pumping at the current volume;

 

Whereas, The reduced pumping scenario does not allow for the perpetuation of the Hiawatha Golf Course, and requires the MPRB to identify uses and activities as a replacement for the current 18-hole golf course;

 

Whereas, New plans for the current 18-hole golf course will be formulated based on community input and will require an amendment to the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan; and

 

Whereas, This resolution is supported by the MPRB 2007-2020 Comprehensive Plan, which envisions “Urban forests, natural areas, and waters that endure and captivate” and “Dynamic parks shape city character and meet diverse community needs;”

 

RESOLVED, That the Board of Commissioners direct staff to work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to obtain a Groundwater Appropriations Permit to allow groundwater pumping at the current volume until a master plan for the Hiawatha Golf Course property is adopted by the MPRB Board of Commissioners and until any changes to the property made necessary by the adopted master plan are implemented; apply for a Groundwater Appropriations Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conforming to a reduced groundwater pumping scenario and further directing staff to organize a process of amending the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan to accommodate changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course property made necessary by the reduced groundwater pumping scenario;

 

RESOLVED, That the Board of Commissioners direct staff to bring forward to the Board of Commissioners, no later than October 18, 2017, a process to evaluate future alternative uses on the Hiawatha Golf Course property through a Community Advisory Committee that includes strong consideration for traditional golf in some form on the property and that allows directions related to the pumping of groundwater to be made fully in concert with a master plan identifying and assessing the viability of potential changes to the golf course property;

 

RESOLVED, That the Board of Commissioners directs staff to work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to obtain a permit to allow groundwater pumping at the current volume until the reduced groundwater pumping scenario can be developed and implemented by the MPRB;

 

RESOLVED, That the Board of Commissioners directs staff to continue to operate Hiawatha Golf Course as an 18-hole golf course until a new master plan for the property is adopted and implemented that addresses issues around excessive pumping identified by the MnDNR; 1) the Board of Commissioners adopt a master plan that does not allow operation of an 18-hole golf course and 2) implementation of changes to cease operation of an 18-hole golf course that is in alignment with the Board approved master plan; implementation of the reduced groundwater pumping scenario commences; and

 

RESOLVED, That the Board of Commissioners provide explicit direction for future pumping at Hiawatha Golf Course property to the Superintendent at the time the Board of Commissioners review and adopt a master plan for Hiawatha Golf Course property; and

 

RESOLVED, That the President of the Board and Secretary to the Board are authorized to take all necessary administrative actions to implement this resolution.

 

Body

BACKGROUND

This item considers actions that may be taken by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) to modify pumping of groundwater from Hiawatha Golf Course into Lake Hiawatha. It directs staff to apply for a Groundwater Appropriations Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aligned with a reduced groundwater pumping scenario developed as part of a range of water management alternatives. Recognizing that investigations suggest that groundwater pumping is necessary to protect nearby private property from groundwater intrusion, this item also directs staff to work with the DNR to obtain permission to pump groundwater at the current volume until the reduced groundwater pumping scenario can be developed and implemented. Finally, this item directs staff to continue to operate Hiawatha Golf Course until implementation of the reduced pumping scenario commences. Because the reduced pumping scenario would protect nearby private properties from groundwater impacts, but would not keep the golf course property dry, this item also directs staff to organize a process of amending the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan to accommodate changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course property made necessary by the reduced groundwater pumping scenario.

 

The DNR has responsibility for review and approval of groundwater appropriations under Minnesota Statute 103G.287 (Groundwater Appropriations), and follows Minnesota Administrative Rule 6115.0600 in its review of requests for groundwater appropriations. The MPRB has a permit from the DNR to use groundwater for irrigation purposes with a limit of 38.5 million gallons annually. When considering an application to the DNR for groundwater appropriations for the Hiawatha Golf Course property, the DNR indicated that a key provision of their review would involve the probable effects on the environment including anticipated changes in the resources, unavoidable detrimental effects, and alternatives to the proposed appropriation.

 

Following sustained flooding during June and July 2014, MPRB staff began the preparation of a series of concepts for the restoration and possible enhancement of Hiawatha Golf Course, which is a component of the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park. As concepts were about to be presented to the public, the MPRB became aware that a significant volume of groundwater is being pumped by MPRB-owned facilities from the golf course property into Lake Hiawatha. The volume was estimated to be approximately 260 million gallons annually, significantly in excess of the MPRB’s groundwater appropriations permitted volume. MPRB staff met with the DNR on several occasions to apprise its hydrology staff of the volume of groundwater being pumped, to review the investigations being pursued, and to share the alternatives being explored.

 

The MPRB) and the City of Minneapolis (City) initiated a second phase of assessment of pumping of groundwater from Hiawatha Golf Course early in 2017. Barr Engineering Company (Barr) was engaged to perform the assessment. The goals for the assessment were, generally, to:

 

·          Further understand implications for pumping at the current volume, building on information gained from the first phase of the work and generate new information needed to support a recommendation for water management;

·          Consider options for pumping, including options for continued pumping at the current volume, reduced pumping volumes, and no pumping;

·          Provide an assessment that considers topics beyond water management, including gaining input on use of the property for any water management option, sustainability of possible solutions, and cost/benefit scenarios for options; and

·          Review regulatory parameters related to pumping of groundwater and any necessary changes.

 

During the course of the work, meetings were conducted with the public on March 30, 2017, April 20, 2017, May 18, 2017, and June 21, 2017 to share information related to pumping investigations and a range of water management alternatives, to discuss possible other uses should an 18-hole golf course not be possible to perpetuate, to demonstrate the narrowing of options to two water management alternatives, and to gain input on directions related to those alternatives.

 

Meetings were also conducted with representatives of regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over pumping or issues related to changes that might result from the work. The meetings and the possible permits associated with each include:

 

·          U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Section 404 Permit);

·          Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Public waters work permit, Groundwater Appropriations permit, Dam Safety permit);

·          Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (Section 401 water quality certification, NPDES/SCS Construction stormwater permit, anti-degradation rule compliance);

·          City of Minneapolis (Preliminary Development Review, No Rise Certificates, temporary groundwater dewatering permits);

·          Metropolitan Council (Regional Park Plan Amendment should uses on the golf course property change);

·          Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (Wetland Conservation Act, Water Resources Permit); and

·          Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Environmental Assessment Worksheet, Construction Permit, Regional Park Plan Amendment).

 

During the course of this work, and related to a memorandum of understanding approved by the Board of Commissioners, staff of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District have been involved in reviews of the options and the final alternatives.

 

The information that follows offers a general summary of the assessment. While abbreviated in this narrative, MPRB and City staff with the consulting team have generated considerable technical information. That information, once reviewed by MPRB and City staff, has been posted to the MPRB’s website.

 

The work performed by Barr has continued through the end of June. While a wider range of options have been developed and considered by MPRB and City staff, two alternatives that best address the project’s objectives were selected for additional assessments including quantifying potential impacts screening for sustainability, and performing a benefit-cost analyses.  Both alternatives would protect nearby private properties from groundwater intrusion, one of the primary goals of the MPRB and the City, as well as the DNR, the agency with authority to regulate groundwater pumping.

 

·          Alternative A perpetuates pumping of 242 million gallons of groundwater annually; continues pumping stormwater from the neighborhood west of the property (about 66 million gallons per year); creates an open channel through the golf course to address stormwater issues and trash in the neighborhoods north of the property; and maintains the current 18-hole golf course.

·          Alternative B reduces groundwater pumping to approximately 94 million gallons per year; eliminates pumping of stormwater; creates an open channel through the property to address stormwater issues and trash in the neighborhoods north of the property; realigns Minnehaha Creek; maximizes water quality treatment; and introduces new uses to the property.

 

From a long-term ecological perspective, a reduction of pumping is important to the MPRB. The golf course was constructed on a former wetland with organic (peat) soils that have historically settled at locations throughout the golf course. Parts of the golf course will continue to settle, and while the rate is likely less than when the golf course was originally constructed, the continued settlement of the land within the golf course area will result in the need for increased pumping into the future, especially if the use of the property as a golf course continues. Continuing to pump at the current volumes presents impacts related to soil subsidence. By pumping less, the area of soil subsidence can be greatly reduced by maintaining higher groundwater levels throughout the golf course area. Uses on the golf course property can be chosen and the site itself can be designed to better accommodate future settlement.

 

Pumping required under each alternative considered the volume necessary to protect nearby properties from groundwater intrusion. Both alternatives achieve the same degree of protection of homes from groundwater and do not change circumstances related to stormwater impacts for the neighborhood to the west of the golf course property and reduce the impacts for the neighborhood to the north.

 

Opportunities for water quality improvements are significantly greater in Alternative B. While Alternative A presents no change in the total phosphorus load contributed to the creek, Alternative A offers the potential reduction of about 183 pounds per year, or about 25 percent of the required Total Maximum Daily Load reduction required for Minneapolis. Both alternatives offer opportunities for mitigation of trash flows into Lake Hiawatha, although it would appear that Alternative B might offer greater opportunities as land use changes are considered.

 

Alternative B also presents the potential for a greater range of landscape types, habitats, and restorations, which promotes the ecologic integrity of the property. The most significant change would be the elimination of turf grasses used on the golf course to introduce, restore or enhance wetlands, upland areas, connected floodplains, and the creek.

 

The assessment also considered the potential for creating a 9-hole golf course on the property in a reduced pumping scenario. Trends and data, researched by the MPRB golf staff and presented at public meetings, suggest a 9-hole golf course is not financially viable and would be not supported by most golfers who typically prefer 18-hole courses. Notably, golf staff indicated several factors that become important relative to a 9-hole golf course:

 

         Trends for 9-hole courses do not support implementation by the MPRB:

         There are 25 9-hole municipal courses in Minnesota, and only 1 is profitable; and

         The Ponds at Battle Creek in the most recent introduction of a 9-hole municipal golf course in the Twin Cities; it has not produced a profit in its 11-year history.

         Revenue for golf courses is generated by weekend players who desire 18 holes:

         15 percent of the golfers considered to be frequent golfers result in 60 percent of the revenue; and

         Frequent golfers include those in leagues and clubs with 18-hole play.

         Expenses for a 9-hole golf course are still significant:

         Expenses are more than half of an 18-hole course; and

         Revenues are less than half of an 18-hole course.

 

A comparison of uses for each alternative was also developed. While this information continues to be refined, the number of users for Alternative A, when golf, winter use, and expanded use of the clubhouse are considered, are less than one-half to one-third the number of users when a wider range of recreation concepts are considered under Alternative B. In addition, when the potential use of the property is compared to the range of uses developed by participants at earlier meetings, Alternative B best captures an opportunity for developing a greater range of uses for diverse users.

 

Both alternatives present significant regulatory hurdles. A host of permits from several local, state, and federal agencies (as identified above in this report) are necessary to implement either alternative. Most significant is the procurement of a groundwater appropriation permit from the DNR that allows for the pumping of groundwater from the property. MPRB and City staff understand the preference of the DNR is Alternative B because of the significant reduction in pumping while protecting nearby private properties as well as the range of benefits related to ecologic function, flood reduction, and water quality that are possible. From a regulatory review perspective, and recognizing that no applications for permits has occurred, Alternative B is viewed as the more viable long-term water management option.

 

Barr employed tools to assess sustainability (Envision) and to perform a cost/benefit analysis (AutoCase). The sustainability screening and benefit-cost analyses, which consider quality of life, resource allocation, climate and risk and return of investment, suggest Alternative B adds greater value to the public realm, offers more opportunities for use for diverse users, effectively manages water resources, and results in greater shared ecological resources. While each alternative demonstrates greater benefits than costs, the benefits of Alternative B are significantly greater than those of Alternative A.

 

A change in use at the golf course property will have impacts on the MPRB’s general fund. Currently, the golf course operates as an MPRB enterprise and receives no public subsidy. The property’s evolution to another use or set of uses will likely create a burden on the MPRB’s general fund, particularly related to the expense of maintaining additional regional parkland. In the more immediate term, the process of developing and implementing a reduced groundwater pumping scenario will also require funding, with the likely source being the MPRB’s general fund. While staff have explored, on a preliminary basis, opportunities for revenue generation in a reduced pumping scenario, implementation of any revenue-generating opportunities depends on the availability of capital funding. Finally, the costs of planning for an evolution of the golf course property need to be considered, again with a perspective on the impact of the MPRB’s general fund.

 

MPRB staff has received considerable input from public meetings conducted to date as well as communications by email and telephone calls. In general, the messages offered by the range of input offered include:

 

·          Retaining an 18-hole golf regardless of any parameters for permitting placed by the DNR;

·          Creating a 9-hole golf course in a reduced pumping scenario;

·          Establishing areas for a food forest either with or without a golf course;

·          Establishing a new set of recreation uses should a water management solution require closing of the golf course; and

·          Being thoughtful about the implications of groundwater pumping with respect to environmental concerns and impacts on neighbors.

 

With that, there is no clear guidance that can be established related the range of input offered. It is important, however, that uses be considered in the context of a water management solution and, in particular, relative to the regulatory approvals required for groundwater appropriations. In addition, understanding the costs of implementing and operating a reduced groundwater pumping scenario becomes a clear need for a master planning process.

 

If the Board of Commissioners accepts water management Alternative B as recommended by this action, staff will organize a process for amending the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan. The current plan did not address the golf course property, but the change in use would necessitate revisiting that portion of the master plan. Under Alternative B, the Board of Commissioners would direct staff to develop a process for a nine to twelve month master planning process that includes a community engagement plan and, as typical for master planning efforts, significant opportunities for public input. Upon adoption of the master planning process, final design and engineering will proceed, as well as permitting and associated regulatory reviews.

 

Hiawatha Golf Course will remain open and maintained until at least the end of the 2019 golf season. The MPRB will continue to work with the DNR during that time based on direction that allows for continued pumping during a period while the formal application for groundwater pumping is prepared, particularly relative to the parameters of a temporary permit that allows for groundwater pumping at the current volume to continue until the reduced groundwater pumping scenario can be implemented.

 

Because of the magnitude of potential change for a part of a regional park, it was determined that a public hearing be included as part of the Board of Commissioners’ review process. The public hearing will occur on July 19, 2017.

 

SUPPORTING MATERIALS

 

The assessment process has produced several reports supporting the recommendation offered by MPRB and City staff. The list of documents and their current status is as follows:

 

Completed and posted documents:

·          Stormwater, Surface Water and Groundwater Analysis Summary (Draft) - February 2017 (Attachment A)

·          MPRB Hiawatha Golf Course Alternatives Assessment Project Water Management Alternatives (Final) - June 2017 (Attachment B)

 

Completed documents:

·          Hiawatha Golf Course Area Water Management Alternatives Assessment - Executive Summary (Draft) - July 2017 (Attachment C)

 

Documents pending final team review:

 

·          MPRB Hiawatha Golf Course Alternatives Assessment Project - Impact Assessment (Attachment D)

·          MPRB Hiawatha Golf Course Alternatives Assessment Project ISI Envision™ Sustainability Framework Comparative Screening (Attachment E)

·          MPRB Hiawatha Golf Course Alternatives Assessment Project Benefits and Costs Comparative Screening (Attachment F)

 

RECOMMENDATION

Staff recommends that the Board of Commissioners directs staff to apply for a Groundwater Appropriations Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conforming to a reduced groundwater pumping scenario and further directing staff to begin a process of amending the Nokomis-Hiawatha Regional Park Master Plan to accommodate changes to the Hiawatha Golf Course property made necessary by the reduced groundwater pumping scenario Staff also recommends that the Board directs staff to work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to obtain a permit to allow groundwater pumping at the current volume until the reduced groundwater pumping scenario can be developed and implemented by the MPRB. Finally, staff recommends that the Board directs staff to continue to operate Hiawatha Golf Course until implementation of the reduced groundwater pumping scenario commences; and

 

This action is supported by the following vision and goal statements in the 2007-2020 MPRB Comprehensive Plan:

 

              Vision Theme 1:              Urban forests, natural areas, and waters that endure and captivate

              Goal:              Sound management techniques provide healthy, diverse, and sustainable natural resources.

              Goal:              People and the environment benefit from the expansion and protection of natural resources.

 

              Vision Theme 3:               Dynamic parks shape city character and meet diverse community needs

              Goal:               Focused land management supports current and future generations.

 

 

 

Meeting History

Jul 19, 2017 5:40 PM  Planning Committee Committee Meeting

Approved on a Roll Call Vote

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Steffanie Musich, Commissioner District 5
AYES:John Erwin, Brad Bourn, Steffanie Musich, Liz Wielinski, Scott Vreeland
ABSENT:Meg Forney, Annie Young
Aug 9, 2017 5:00 PM  Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Regular Meeting
RESULT:ADOPTED [6 TO 3]
MOVER:Meg Forney, Commissioner At Large
SECONDER:Liz Wielinski, Commissioner District 1
AYES:Anita Tabb, John Erwin, Brad Bourn, Steffanie Musich, Scott Vreeland, Liz Wielinski
NAYS:Meg Forney, Jon Olson, Annie Young
Aug 9, 2017 5:00 PM  Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Regular Meeting

That the Board amend resolution 2014-243 as follows: Insert - RESOLVED, That the Board of Commissioners direct staff to bring forward to the Board of Commissioners, no later than October 18, 2017, a process to evaluate future alternative uses on the Hiawatha Golf Course property through a Community Advisory Committee that includes strong consideration for traditional golf in some form on the property;

RESULT:AMENDMENT ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:John Erwin, Vice President, Commissioner At Large
SECONDER:Annie Young, Commissioner At Large
AYES:Anita Tabb, John Erwin, Brad Bourn, Meg Forney, Steffanie Musich, Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland, Liz Wielinski, Annie Young
Oct 4, 2017 5:00 PM  Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Regular Meeting
RESULT:ADOPTED [6 TO 1]
MOVER:Meg Forney, Commissioner At Large
SECONDER:Scott Vreeland, Commissioner District 3
AYES:John Erwin, Brad Bourn, Meg Forney, Steffanie Musich, Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland
NAYS:Liz Wielinski
ABSENT:Anita Tabb, Annie Young