Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

Op-Ed Piece

Eagan Sun-Current
Wednesday, July 25, 2001

"Golf Course Not a Hole-in-One Concept for City of Eagan"

By Joshua Nichols, Eagan Editor

Mark Twain once said, "golf is a good walk spoiled." While that may have been an exaggeration by the humorist, it can alos be partially applied to Eagan's quest for a championship-style golf course.

At the July 17 City Council meeting, one Eagan resident and golfer spoke of the lack of golf courses "worth playing" in the Twin Cities. I nearly started weeping at the man's tale of having to drive 20 to 30 minutes to play a round of golf.

The council was more moved, voting for a nine-month moratorium on land necessary to prevent development during a study of the feasibility of a golf course. The Eagan Golf Course Exploratory Committee, which will be appointed in August, will head up that study.

Eagan leaders have said time and time again that a golf course is something city residents have come to them asking for. Aren't Eagan's three golf courses, including one that is only a couple of blocks away from the proposed new site, enough? In addition, there are more than 100 other courses located around the Twin Cities.

My daughter asks for candy all the time, but just because she wants it, I'm not going to buy her a candy bar when she already has a box of jelly beans in her other hand.

A recent National Golf Foundation study found the number of golfers in America to be more than 26 million or 10 percent of the population. Of that, only 5.4 million are "avid golfers" playing more than 25 rounds a year.

If those percentages are similar here, does it realy make sense to seek a project that will only serve the wants, not the needs, of one out of every 10 people in the community? Especially when they already have other options?

Previous projects such as the Community Center, Cascade Bay and the Civic Arena serve more people and provided services not already existing in the community. One resident at the July 17 meeting spoke outraged that the city would consider looking at spending money on a "pet need"and it's hard to disagree with him.

I hate to wrap something like affordable housing into this issue because many peole get their guard up over that term even if they do not completely understand what that term means. The golf course and any kind of housing are not necessarily linked together, and there won't even be that much land left for housing if the course is developed.

However, Mayor Pat Awada has stated on more than one occasion that the city will not rezone an area with the idea it will attract a certain kind of housing to that area. If that is the case, what makes a golf course different in that the city would consider zoning an area for golf course use and waiting for developers to bring offers to them? Awada stated that option as something the city could look at if the study finds the golf course doable.

As Councilmember Paul Bakken commented at the public hearing on the golf course study, the moratorium and study are simply a means to decide whether or not a golf course is feasible and desirable in Eagan.

I hope that committee and their study does their job well. The golf course would fill up one of the last large tracts of open land in the city and could potentially deprive private landowners of their plans for the land.

Because of that, it will be especially important for the committee to decide whether using that space for a project that will serve a smaller percentage of the population with a want that is already served elsewhere is up to par.

Joshua Nichols is community editor of the Eagan Sun-Current Newspaper.

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