Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

Letters to the Editor

Eagan ThisWeek
Saturday, September 15, 2001

Keep Patrick Eagan Park in its Natural State

To the editor:

The Eagan City Council wants to consider a championship golf course for the last large parcel of "available" land in Eagan, which would entail the destruction of existing parkland. What are our city officials thinking? And of whom are they thinking? Is this really what our community as a whole wants or needs? Isn't there something more widely beneficial that our public servants should be focusing on, instead of this? It seems that our city officials have an "elitist" agenda aimed at attracting well-to-dos to Eagan, rather than focusing on projects that could benefit the greatest number of Eagan's existing residents.

Minnesota already has more golf courses per capita than any other state. Eagan has 40 golf courses within a dozen miles of it, a number of which promote themselves as upscale. Eagan itself already has three golf courses. City officials have recently acknowledged that in a survey of Eagan residents taken in the late 90s, under 5% of the community favored such a golf course. An acquaintance of ours in golf course management tells us that only about 5% of golfers play on championship courses because of their difficulty and cost (usually those with a handicap between 0 and 10). 5% of 5% of Eagan's 60,000 residents who supported the notion of an elite course would represent 150 individuals (about half of this number appearing on the Golf Course Exploratory Committee), and even these individuals would only be able to use such a course for roughly half the year. Because of these illuminating facts, the Mayor has taken it upon herself to give the small camp of championship golf course proponents a boost by recruiting pro-golf members from Rotary and elsewhere to volunteer for the committee, even some who live outside of Eagan.

The alleged "need" for a golf course, especially when considered in light of the meager support for it, hardly justifies the destruction of Patrick Eagan Park. It is one of the few places left in Eagan where bald eagles can be seen congregating. It has never been farmed. These are but two reasons why the Minnesota DNR and the National Park Service agreed to contribute over $140,000 to Eagan to preserve this land. The City now wants to renege on its pledge and plow, sod, fertilize and apply herbicides and pesticides to Patrick Eagan Park to disfigure it beyond recognition. In reply to questions about these objectives, City Council Member Cindy Fields recently responded, "Oh, we will keep it natural!" Perhaps from Ms. Fields' perspective, anything that is not paved qualifies as natural. The truth of the matter is that our current City Council is demonstrating disturbingly narrow vision concerning Eagan's "last great tract of land." Contrary to their claims, they would remove this superb park from the accessibility of 95% of the community---to package an elite course for the anticipated interest of CEOs and others. This is clearly not acceptable and the majority view expressed by the citizens of Eagan needs to be heard. Write your public servants crying "Foul!" and attend the next Patrick Eagan Park Preservation Committee (PEPPC, pronounced 'pepsi') meeting to help preserve our park in its wonderfully natural state.

Roberta & Jack Conrad

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