You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Bill would shift ownership of Muny from UT to state parks department


Highlights

State Sen. Craig Estes calls the golf course “a true civic asset” for its setting and civil rights history.

The proposal comes shortly after UT offered to extend the city’s lease of Muny for a higher price.

The years-long debate over the future of Lions Municipal Golf Course in West Austin took an unexpected turn Friday with the filing of state legislation that would transfer ownership from the University of Texas System to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The purpose is to preserve a course that is “a true civic asset” for its “gorgeous setting” and its place in civil rights history, said the measure’s author, state Sen. Craig Estes, a Republican from Wichita Falls. Democratic Sens. Royce West of Dallas and Borris Miles of Houston are co-authors.

The proposal, Senate Bill 822, comes a little less than a month after UT, in an abrupt policy reversal, offered to extend its lease of the course, known as Muny, to the city of Austin beyond 2019 — provided the city is willing to pony up lease payments that are closer to the land’s market value, estimated at $5.5 million a year in 2011.

Mayor Steve Adler said last month that he would “love” to work with UT to preserve Muny. “I would like to thank Senator Estes for trying to save this iconic part of Austin,” Adler said Friday.

A UT-Austin spokesman said the university would have no comment because the matter involves pending legislation. Officials at the UT System didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The UT System Board of Regents has long contemplated leasing the 141-acre course and other portions of the university-owned Brackenridge Tract along Lake Austin Boulevard for a major commercial and residential development, with lease payments benefiting the Austin campus.

The bill makes no mention of any compensation to the UT System for losing the land.

Muny is considered one of the earliest municipal golf courses in the former Confederate states to be desegregated, if not the first. The National Park Service added it to the National Register of Historic Places last year for that reason. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private group, placed the course on its list of America’s most endangered historic places.

The national recognition apparently prompted UT to revise its once-firm position that Muny would cease to be operated as a golf course after the city’s lease expires in 2019.

Muny sits in the “charming, old-Austin neighborhood” of Tarrytown, a place that conveys “a powerful sense of nostalgia,” Estes said. “To have a beautiful, affordable public space in this gorgeous setting is a true civic asset,” he said.

Col. George Washington Brackenridge, who donated the Brackenridge Tract to the university, was “a pioneering figure with his early support for women’s and civil rights” and would have been proud to see it become a desegregated golf course, Estes said.

“I am truly bewildered that the University of Texas, a public institution with resources most could only dream of, would cast away this history,” he said.

The proposed legislation would order the UT board to transfer the property, along with the city’s lease, to the Parks and Wildlife Department. Ownership of the property would automatically revert to the UT System if the parks department no longer uses it for a public golf course.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said he has asked legislative staffers to look into whether the proposed transfer would be legal, noting that Brackenridge bequeathed the land to UT.

“We are reviewing the bill, and we look forward to working with Sen. Estes, who is a strong supporter of the department and the Texas state park system, as the Legislature contemplates this piece of legislation,” said Josh Havens, a Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman.

Ken Tiemann with Save Muny, a group whose name sums up its mission, said, “We are very appreciative of the interest Senators Estes, West and Miles have taken in the preservation of Lions Municipal.”

Save Muny leaders and Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion and Lions sympathizer, plan Wednesday to unveil Crenshaw’s proposal to restore Muny’s layout to that of its golden years, as well as to expand the practice facilities and add a new clubhouse. Crenshaw and others say the cost, estimated at $10 million to $12 million, can be raised privately.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Nonprofits say new child services law could be tough on youths
Nonprofits say new child services law could be tough on youths

A new law that allows public and private foster care and adoption agencies to deny services and placement to people based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” will be toughest on youths in foster care, some local experts say. And the organizations that serve youths are wondering how to help them navigate the new system. The law goes into...
Community news: Sidewalk project’s completion celebrated Thursday

TRAVIS COUNTY CENTRAL AUSTIN End of sidewalk project celebrated The city of Austin will host an event to celebrate the completion of the first 2016 Mobility Bond sidewalk project, a newly constructed sidewalk in the North Loop neighborhood, at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The celebration will start in the parking lot of the Sky-View Baptist Church, 211 W. Koenig...
Four killed in Fayette County head-on crash

Four people were killed Sunday morning in a head-on crash on a rural road outside of La Grange, police said. A Hyundai sedan and a GMC pick-up truck slammed into each other on County Road 159 in Fayette County about 4 miles outside of La Grange, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman. The crash occurred at 11:47 a.m. Sherry Williams...
Texas Digest: Officer’s widow gets 12-year sentence for killing him

SAN ANTONIO Officer’s widow sentenced for killing him A woman has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing her husband — a San Antonio police officer — by running him over with her vehicle. The San Antonio Express-News reported that Diana Marileen Lopez, 27, was sentenced after a court hearing Friday. She had pleaded guilty...
Man charged in Temple boat accident that killed young girl

The man piloting a houseboat that ran over and killed a young girl in Temple has been charged with criminally negligent homicide, Bell County authorities said on Sunday afternoon. The Bell County district attorney’s office issued the complaint against Jason Bernal after Temple police presented the case against him on Sunday, according to a police...
More Stories