Edina Braemar Golf Course Ski Trail & Tubing : Your Tax Dollars May be Going Downhill, Fast
by Karen Hazel, 19th Precinct; Edina resident
The Edina City Council is speeding toward a September 7 vote on a proposed $3 million change to Braemar Golf Course that would significantly impact adjacent properties and roads, especially Gleason Road.
No, it’s not a “done deal,” and the Council hasn’t voted on it yet. But ski trails are marked off, and approximately $175,000 of tax money has already been spent in exploring this—the feasibility study. And the vote will happen weeks—not months—from now.
On July 13, many residents of southwest Edina learned for the first time about a proposed re-development of a portion of the Braemar Golf Course to add Nordic ski trails and a tubing hill. If adopted by the Edina City Council on September 7, the proposed $3 million project would construct a 2.2 kilometer Nordic ski trail around the perimeter of the golf course. In addition, a 11-lane tubing hill would be created roughly where kids and families now informally (and at no cost) tube in winter months.
Rather than refine existing trails frugally and sensibly, the project represents a fundamental rework of the landscape at Braemar. To create the proposed 50-foot wide ski trail (yes, 50-feet wide), construction would begin as early as October 2016, so as to “take advantage of the fact that the [golf] course renovation is already underway.”
Edina residents: to sign a petition urging the Edina City Council to reconsider this project, CLICK HERE
On July 6, many residents in the southwest quadrant of Edina received a letter from the Edina Parks and Recreation Board, inviting us to an informational meeting on July 13 to learn about a proposed development to Braemar Golf Course: the construction of Nordic ski trails and tubing hill.
Who doesn’t love to see a great facility enhanced, right? Of the residents who attended, most arrived with an open mind. Optimism changed to outrage when we learned more.
A flawed approach
Lighting poles and snow-making machines would be installed along the entire trail and tubing hill. The snow machines (which actually create ice crystals), would grind five hours nightly for up to 12 weeks each winter, accompanied by night-time lighting to enable noisy plows to “smooth out” the ice for morning skiers, creating both noise and light pollution.
There’s more. The vendor who would be awarded the contract—SEH—mentioned in passing that the snow machines would likely “over spray” ice crystals onto Gleason Road. So, even on a “blue sky” day, Gleason Road would be subject to manmade driving hazards, on an already dangerous winter road. The ice would spray onto nearby homes, too, and when homeowners expressed objection, they were told, “You can just bump that extra snow and ice off your driveways.” Hmm.
The fiscal irresponsibility of this proposal is as painful. This proposal is not among the City’s stated strategic priorities for this fiscal year, for one. In addition, presenters admitted that although $3 million was the upfront cost (and of course, paid for by a tax increase to ALL Edina homeowners), the project wouldn’t break even for at least five years, if at all–Edina residents, whether or not they ever use the facility, could pay for many years to come, as there is no clear break-even plan out forward with the proposal.
The risks and hazards this project poses are many. Aside from destroying forestry and displacing (or killing off) wildlife, the public safety hazard caused by the “over spray” effect on roads could be devastating. The consultant’s response? We’ll just add more trucks to salt Gleason overnight, adding more to our tax burden.
What’s more, dumping 1.5’ of manmade snow on top of an elevated landscape means runoff when the sun shines. Gleason Road will receive that cascading water, which will ice up nicely overnight. Then there’s the risk of sinkage to nearby properties, as underground wells are drained to fuel ice-making machines. No mention of these risks by SEH or Park and Rec Board to homeowners.
Citizen voices can make a difference
For fiscal conservatives who expect and demand careful, prudent stewardship of our tax dollars by the City Council: there’s good news. The Mayor and Council seem willing to hear residents’ opposition to this ludicrous proposal. Up until July 13, they had only heard from supporters: the kids and parents of the Nordic ski club at Edina High School, and, of course, the vendor who stands to gain. Emails and phone calls to the Mayor or to individual Council members since then are making an impact. The opposition to this stands firm: It is a fiscally irresponsible use of tax dollars, for a project that is ill-researched, and inappropriate for its designated location and a potential public safety hazard.
Time of is the essence. Edina residents, please visit the online petition to learn more and to “sign” it electronically, to formally oppose this project. Call or write to the Mayor and City Council. Ask them to “pause and reflect,” and chart a sensible and cost-effective enhancement to Braemar, not an extreme and potentially hazardous plan that will amount to a money pit for taxpayers. Your opinion matters greatly; but we’re not out of the woods yet.
To sign the petition, Edina residents are encouraged to visit: http://www.BraemarGreen.org
To learn more about this project, visit: http://edinamn.gov/index.php?section=winterrecbraemar