Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

Letters to the Editor

Eagan This Week
Sun-Current Eagan

Patrick McCarthy's Land Still Worth Saving for All of Eagan Residents

To the editor:

Just a few short months ago, the Mayor brought three notable ingredients to the Eagan City Council and the Council-sanctioned Golf Course Exploratory Committee:

  1. a sense of urgency--to act on the "last large open tract of land left in Eagan";
  2. an unwavering focus--on Patrick McCarthy's land (beside Patrick Eagan Park) to the exclusion of numerous other smaller parcels ripe for incorporation into the Eagan Park System; and
  3. an absence of concern about funding sources needed to acquire such a significant parcel for the purposes of a golf course-"We need to move forward on this land now and worry about funding sources later."

The Exploratory Committee eventually found that the championship golf course proposed for this land was not financially viable, yet threats to the McCarthy property have persisted.

At a recent City Council workshop, Friends of Patrick Eagan Park underscored this point while requesting two modest actions: first, an Open Space survey of Eagan residents, localizing the recently conducted Dakota County-wide Open Space survey (in which nearly 2 out of 3 respondents indicated their willingness to support a bonding referendum to acquire and preserve additional green space around the county); and second, the placement of a first option to purchase on the McCarthy property, should it come under threat from a developer. The Mayor's reaction to the request to protect this land was characterized by three chief features:

  1. a go slow approach, being marginally supportive of an Open Space survey (provided that the questions can be mixed with numerous others) and marginally opposed to placing options on the McCarthy property (until after the results of the survey are determined--assuming they are determinable);
  2. an effort to shift the focus from the McCarthy property to one that includes "a number of other open spaces still to be found in Eagan," and
  3. a preoccupation with monies needed to acquire such parcels. In the Mayor's own words: "we have no money"---this despite her acknowledgement that the City still has $3 million remaining its Parks budget.

What's wrong with this picture? Why did use of the McCarthy property as an executive golf course merit a single-issue survey, one which the Mayor strongly supported, but use of the property to expand Eagan's invaluable, unspoiled green space does not? Is it the case that the Mayor is more concerned with the whims of a group of elite golfers than future generations of Eagan's citizens, citizens who would cherish such a Core Greenway as a resource for all members of the community to experience and enjoy? Friends of Patrick Eagan Park has brought to the table a wide variety of parties interested in contributing to the acquisition and protection of Mr. McCarthy's land in the context of an Eagan Core Greenway. These parties include the DNR's Metro Greenways Program, the Trust for Public Land, the McKnight Foundation, and the Sierra Club, to name just a few. What is troubling is that despite this support for the expansion of Eagan's Core Greenway, both local and regional, the Mayor seems more interested in dragging her feet than moving forward and collaborating with such reputable non-profit, public interest organizations. The time has come for Eagan's residents to speak out and let their Council members know that they value the expansion of a central greenway, and that they want the Mayor and the Council to pursue its preservation with the same sense of conviction and urgency that they did for Eagan's fourth golf course. Isn't it time for the City's priorities to match those of its citizens, rather than the personal aspirations of some of its politicians?

Jack & Roberta Conrad
Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

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