The following letter by Robert Dwyer was sent on September 30 to Friends of the Theodore Wirth Par 3.
The agenda for the Wednesday October 1, 2014 Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting includes a request from staff for the board to approve an October 15, 2014 date as the start of the 45 day public comment period for the Theodore Wirth Regional Park Master Plan.
It is expected that this Master Plan will include the recommendations of the Wirth Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) which, as most of you remember, finished its work in June of 2012. Their Concept Plan was subsequently accepted by the board. Included in those recommendations was the commitment to keep the Par 3 in operation as it has been, and to refrain from making any changes the layout of that course.
During subsequent meetings, and as recently as a month ago, we have been assured of certain other Par 3 essentials by the Planning Department. These include:
The Par 3 will be able to operate out on the new Welcome Center at least as effectively as it did in the “old building”.
Par 3 operations will continue to me managed my MPRB Recreation Department personnel.
The old facilities (clubhouse and parking lot) will not be eliminated until the Par 3 can begin operations in the new facilities (Welcome Center, parking lot, and parkway bridge).
However, the Planning Department has been working toward the submission of this Master Plan for over two years now. While the CAC’s Concept plan was an important step the Planning Department is free to make any changes, deletions or additions within its submission. In addition, the scope of the Master Plan goes far beyond those items covered in the CAC Concept Plan.
For golfers, we know that provisions included in the new Master Plan will cover the Par 3, the Welcome Center, ski and bike trails, other paths and trails, the front and back nines of the 18 hole course, the Chalet and surrounding area, and the impact of other activities on or near the course areas.
In addition the programs and facilities for all other activities for ALL of Wirth Park will be covered in this plan. We will certainly be interested in learning as much as possible about these plans and responding during the comment period regarding golf issues, and any other issues which are important to us as park users.
This Master Plan document is reported to be in excess of 200 pages. Park users will need a great deal of time to study the document and should have a chance to become familiar with it before the Planning Dept holds any meetings or attempts to conduct any survey to obtain feedback. BUT the Planning Department has not submitted a copy of the Master Plan with the documents for the October 1st meeting. In fact they have made it clear that they are following a new process which is expected to apply to all future Public Comment periods.
The Planning Dept. has indicated, in their report for the October 1st board meeting, the various meetings and methods they will follow to manage the 45 day comment period. They expect to post the Master Plan document on the MPRB Web site by the beginning of the comment period.
For a document as large and complex as this, it would seem that the more time they could offer park users to study and understand it, the better the result would be. In some similar circumstances in the past the board has provided for an extended (60 day) public comment period. The Planning Department is considering this option.
The documents for the Planning Department request for approval of the 45 day comment period (staff report and Resolution 2014-243) is board agenda item 10.2 in the October 1st regular meeting agenda packet. The agenda packet can accessed at this link:
The agenda packet then must be downloaded as a pdf file. I can also send a you a copy of these documents via email if you cannot access them in the normal manner.
Friends of the Theodore Wirth Park