January 14 Bryce Johnson The recent events surrounding the fate of the historic Lakeview Golf Course (Star Tribune, January 10) represent a spiraling tragedy for people across the Metro area concerned about preservation and property rights. The first tragedy was when the longtime owner answered the first knock from the first developer misjudging the overwhelming community interest in preserving the land in a way that could have matched that first offer. The second tragedy was when the Orono Council made it all about individual property rights, citing historic zoning provisions that had never addressed open space and applied to every park, preserve and golf course in the city. This at the expense of a Comprehensive Plan written like Preservation 101 (specifically discouraging the development of private golf courses). Tragedy number three was the Council’s failure to recognize that a group that could gather 1000 petition signatures and 400 pledges from December 10th until January 2nd – think about the time frame – could have easily reached their goal of matching the first developer’s offer, preserving the owner’s property rights, the land and the Comprehensive Plan. The final tragedy remains to be played out. Will people flock to Orono to purchase million dollar homes without access to Lake Minnetonka in the Westonka school district? Real estate experts say it won’t happen. Will historic Lakeview become a legacy of shame for a council obsessed with a warped view of property rights? And will that tragedy spread to other cities facing the same unnecessary conflict?  Read The Laker & The Pioneer Letter Here

January 13 Julie Garlock Ruegemer “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.” -Kurt Vonnegut …and it would have been amazing. Thanks to all who worked so hard to support this noble cause these last 2 months.

January 11 Stefanie Johnson Huesmann I thought elected officials were supposed to work FOR the citizens. Aren’t they supposed to be OUR voice? Why aren’t they listening?

January 11 John Hess They screwed up with the zoning and now we have to pay for it. There is no accountability. All surrounding Lakeview residents as well as other Orono residents need to remember this fail come next election.

January 7 Andy Schmidt I’m disappointed in the council’s decision. They ought to be ashamed of their decision. They did not listen to the tax payers and citizens. They listened to the developers money. This will be something to remember come election time.

January 7 Annemarie Kasper This is regrettable and very disappointing. I can not believe that this property will be destroyed.

January 6 STEPHANIE SKJERVOLD, Shorewood (Star Tribune)
One suburb gets it, and one does not

What a striking contrast in municipal vision and values in the Dec. 25 metro section (“In Orono, golf course in play” and “Maplewood adds bluff as green space”). According to the reports, Maplewood has been planning for decades to add “70 acres of prime bluffland along the Mississippi River” to its green space.

Well-played, Maplewood!

Meanwhile, Orono shanked its chance to effectively plan for the transition of the Lakeview Golf Course’s 143 acres, so now that land is being sold to a developer, over howls from the citizens. A triple-bogey for Orono!

Even though I don’t live in Orono or Maplewood, we all are vested in these decisions. They affect the quality of life in the entire metro area. Like the sign in a photo accompanying the Orono article says: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”

January 6 SARA PAULSON, Minnetrista (Star Tribune)
I have to object to the assertion at the end of the Orono article that the Red Oaks development in Minnetrista “has not generated opposition.” Had the reporter attended an angry, standing-room-only neighborhood meeting with the developer at the clubhouse earlier this fall, he’d understand how contentious all this is. Not because homes are to be built, but because of how poorly planned the development is, with no thought to green space or the idyllic nature of what draws people to this community. I live just a stone’s throw from Orono, and I hope developers keep their promise that their project will be something the city can be proud of.

January 6 Brenda Johnson
Chase Johnson-Pellizzer layers in preparation for the Orono City Council meeting were the fate of his favorite park, recreation and open space (Lakeview Golf Course) could be decided tonight!
Bundle up and be safe.

Chase (last run)

January 6 Brenda Johnson The book Orono, Minnesota 1889-1989: 100 Years “By the Waters of Minnetonka” by James R. Roehl provides a rich history of the early settlers, Native Americans, transportation, civic life and resident activism. On page 91 it offers this perspective:

“In early March 1889, George A. Brackett led a drive to get a new town or Orono started. He set out from Orono Point with his petition in one hand and his other hand on the reins of his horse and buggy………..”

Why did Orono’s founders feel it necessary to form a new town? The town of Medina had perhaps grown too large, over 50 square miles instead of the usual 36 by 1889, too large for a single governing body to administer. …….The founders of Orono were also attempting to gain more control over local matters and they wished to spell the tide of development that was sweeping in from Wayzata, Long Lake and Minnetonka Beach. They wanted to preserve the rustic, cottage atmosphere around the north shore and assure that strict land management practices were followed. We owe much to these founding fathers whose concern and foresight have left us today with a lovely and peaceful home here on the north shore of Lake Minnetonka.”

January 6 Brenda Johnson Interesting facts about the area: Native Americans occupied the Lake Minnetonka area including Orono. Tipi Hill (in Orono) where Indians were present became Union Cemetery. Seven Nations Natural Area a 5-acre wooded and prairie location in Orono is dedicated to early Indians that lived in that area. Physical evidence, in terms of artifacts from the area, is on display in the Western Hennepin County Pioneers Museum, and includes a dugout canoe found in 1936 in the wetland of North Arm as well as a variety of arrowheads. Pioneer accounts are also described in files and books at the Museum. The dugout below was found on North Arm and residents adjacent to Lakeview found artifacts such as arrowheads.

Blog Post_Jan 6

January 6 Brigitte Hamblin
My family and I moved to Orono 2.5 years ago. We chose the area because of it’s open spaces, rural feel and great schools. We live across West Branch Rd from the Lakeview Golf Course. I am worried about the impact of this possible development to our neighborhood. The increased traffic going passed my house everyday is very concerning, especially since so many drivers currently speed down my road on their way to and from Hwy 12. We are concerned about the impact to wildlife and the environment that the development will pose. More than anything, we are concerned that our quiet, country setting will be completely destroyed. If this development goes through, we will seriously consider selling and moving out of Orono. We are hoping the city council votes against this development in favor of keeping the open space we all love.

December 31 Bill Bockmann
If this ‘back room deal’ goes through, it is time for non-violent protest.

December 30 Mary Sladek
Land designated as ‘Park, Recreation and Open Space’ serves a significant purpose for its community; in 2010, the City of Orono clearly valued this. The first page of the 789-page 2010-2030 Community Management Plan which was recently adopted by the Orono City Council on 9/13/10 succinctly states, “…pertinent sections of the CMP have been revised and updated to reflect current conditions, yet in each area the revisions have not changed Orono’s community management philosophy.” The four bullet points listed under Orono’s Community Management Philosophy include: 1) protect and preserve Lake Minnetonka, its water quality and its recreational assets; 2) preserve our distinct urban and rural lifestyles and land use patterns; 3) preserve and protect our many natural resources and open spaces; and 4) preserve our local character and identity. For these reasons, the current guidance of Lakeview Golf Course as ‘Park, Recreation and Open Space’ should be upheld.

December 30 Kathy Sawicki
Speaking from the perspective of a 27 year Orono resident who lives within a mile of Lakeview and as a realtor: A new housing subdivision full of $800,000 to $1,200,000 homes is not what this City needs. There is very ittle demand in our market in this price range for “non lake shore” property. Flooding this segment of the market with 59 homes will likely drive down prices of existing, comparable homes owned by Orono residents.

Minnetrista is already adding approximately 60 homes (3 per acre density) in the immediate area (Red Oak Golf Course) and there is a strong possiblity of another 9 or 10 lot subdivision abutting Red Oak.

What Orono needs is GREEN SPACE for it’s citizens to enjoy and recreate and especially, to honor the covenants of our comprehensive plan. Changing the comp plan is a dangerous precedent and an abrupt change in the historical, philosophy of the city. I fully support the efforts of Citizens for Lakeview Preservation and agree that they have a better vision for this land with full respect for the current owner’s desire to sell.

December 27 Dani Paripovich Steele
I am having a hard time believing that our City Council is about to vote in favor of changing the Orono Comprehensive Plan to allow for the replacement of a huge parcel of green space (golf course) with a housing development. They are stating that it is the seller’s right to maximize his sale price, no matter if it’s currently protected as green space. Translation/question: wouldn’t we then all have the right to put a sub-development on our land because it’s our right to sell and maximize our profit, no matter how it’s zoned or how many acres we have? Along with my new sub-development, I’d like to put a Starbucks on my land because my circle drive would be a good place for a drive-through. I hope everyone will call our Mayor and Council members RIGHT AWAY and tell them this is preposterous. They have some serious explaining to do for why they’re in favor of this! The chain reaction of development that’s going to stem from this is going to change our town (and school) as we know it.

December 26 Stephen C Bren
It would seem that expecting the Orono City Council to make a decision on changing the guidance of the land from “Park Recreation and Open Space” to “Rural Residential” based on “a far-cry from final” housing subdivision schematic … and without undertaking proper traffic, housing and environmental study assessments is absurd. The 2008-2030 City’s Management Plan says, “Orono will encourage the preservation of private open space and will identify and acquire additional public open space parcels as the opportunity arises…”. Since the Management Plan serves in essence as the City’s “constitution”, then how is it possible that the Orono City Council be pressured to change the guidance prior to researching alternative land use that fits the current guidance…and one in which the owner could be paid for his land? If the decision is made to change the guidance based on such little factual information, well frankly…then our City’s Management Plan doesn’t mean much and we shouldn’t chose to live in a community thinking it does.

December 23 Kelley Carlson
I was born on North Arm Drive, and have always known that I’m coming home when I see the sign for Lakeview Golf Course. I flew down its gentle hills the first time I went sledding, and I played hide-and-seek behind its trees on dusky summer nights. I rode my bike around its perimeter when I needed to think, and I made forts with my friends in the little houses that dotted the greens. My childhood was peaceful, it was idyllic, and that’s owed in large part to the space that I had to run freely and safely. Making the changes that the Citizens for Lakeview Preservation are suggesting would only serve to make that space even better for the children in our future, and I hope dearly that their soft voices will be heard.

December 23 Connie Piepho
Over 35 years ago, my husband and I chose this community to live and to be involved with because we believed in what Orono stood for. The 2008-2030 Orono Management Plan still echoes this commitment:

• Protect and preserve Lake Minnetonka, its water quality and its recreational assets.
• Preserve our distinct urban and rural lifestyles and land use patterns.
• Preserve and protect our many natural resources and open spaces.
• Preserve our local character and identity.

The 2008-2030 Orono Management Plan clearly states (Part 4E-30), “The City will encourage the preservation of private open space” and “Once land is developed, the opportunity for its preservation as open space is lost.”

Instead of yet another housing subdivison, imagine this unique 143-acre parcel of land as a historical center honoring our area’s heritage, biking and hiking trails, cross country ski trails, perhaps a children’s playground and dog park that can be enjoyed by all.

Please contact our Orono City Council members and request that the land guidance not be changed, but instead to consider and support alternate land uses that fall within the current guidance of “Park, Recreation and Open Space. Let’s hold Orono to its promise. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever!

December 22 Janice Hedberg
I can’t imagine Orono without this beautiful green space. It has been a part of my life for 37 years.

December 20 Steve Ruce
Charlie Leck’s recent blog ‘Ad Astra’ addresses our concerns. Please follow the link:

December 20 Todd Mikkelson
Met the developers last night. They’re very nice guys. But I still think the Orono City Council needs to show us home owners in Orono as much, possibly more respect than an outside development company. A promise was made to us. That promise should not be broken.

December 18 Mary Franzel
Having grown up across the street from the 7th tee on the east 9, I have spent many many hours on the course. Russ even allowed us to ride our horses on the course in the winter for a couple years – he simply asked that we stay off the greens! When my parents purchased the land they built our home on, the golf course was a farm. We have watched it grow great pleasure over the last 50 years. This course is one of the reasons people want to move to Orono. It distinguishes Orono from the many other cookie cutter suburbs. This is a gem – please keep it for future generations to enjoy! Along these same lines I recall when the Noerenberg Gardens land was offered to the public as a park there was a lot of conversation about not wanting to remove such a valuable piece of property from the tax roles. Thank heavens some forward thinking people prevailed – look at the beautiful result for all to enjoy! Please keep Lakeview as an open space.

December 17 Paul Kerr
Our backyard is lake view, they have been good neighbors and we know something is about to change, we are at a turning point in our community and we must ask ourselves how we want this city to look in the future. Hold Orono to its promise, keep the open skies and land, contact your council members, let your voice be heard.

December 16 Dan Iverson
For 30 years, I have lived above Lakeview golf course, being continually reminded of why I moved and stayed here so many years ago. Those rolling hills, trees, lakes and streams brings a quality of life that is seldom found in a metropolitan setting. Lakeview has great value as a natural watershed and for recreation, but not as development project. Hundreds of feet of underground tiling attest to the fact that this land is unsuitable for development. This tiling, by state law would have to be removed before any building could proceed with possibly serious, unforeseen consequences and set a dangerous precedent for the loss of other precious open spaces throughout Orono.

December 15 Pete Bush
We can’t even imagine Orono allowing a developer to do away with the most significant green space in the western part of Orono. It is ridiculous to consider breaking the Comprehensive Plan and not preserving our green space. The many hours of play our children and their friends had on the land when golfers were not playing were an invaluable part of their healthy growing up.

December 14 Peder Davisson
I recently discovered that Lakeview Golf Course was going to be sold to a developer for residential housing. I can’t begin to explain how sad and disappointed this made me. You see, I grew up across the street from that golf course and it holds many special memories for me. This space has been more than just a golf course to me. This is the place I would go in the winter to sled with my neighborhood friends, the place I would cross-country ski, the place where I would sell lemonade to golfers in the summer time. When my grandmother died, it was the place I took my 83 year old Norwegian grandpa to ski. And now it is the place that I bring my own kids to sled, ski and go for walks when it’s closed for the season. I understand that there are many people out there that have enjoyed this as a “green space” for many years and the thing that keeps going through my mind is – once this is gone, its gone forever. It will never be the green space it once was. I understand that the City of Orono has, as one of its mandates, to preserve such green space when ever possible. I would like to encourage everyone reading this post to hold the city council responsible for upholding this mandate.

December 13 Betty Carlson
Once this beautiful parcel of land is developed – it’s gone. It can never be duplicated. We don’t need more large homes around the lake–we need park space! This area will be just as beautiful 100 years from now. Let’s leave a legacy for generations to come.

December 12 Janice Hedberg
I can’t imagine Orono without this beautiful green space. it has been a part of my life for 37 years.

December 11 Kristi Geditz Schulte
I am so glad you and families like you are fighting to keep this beautiful land looking like a park. It is one place I love to take a walk and watch the scenery and sun.