State-created Save Muny Historic District to take over concession responsibilities at historic golf course

Lions Municipal Golf Course clubhouse (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lions Municipal Golf Course clubhouse (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lions Municipal Golf Course clubhouse (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)

While negotiations over the fate of Austin’s historic Lions Municipal Golf Couse continue, the city has agreed to hand food and beverage concession responsibilities over to the state-created Save Muny Historic District.

The contract between Austin and The University of Texas board of regents—the golf course’s landlord—is currently on a month-to-month basis. The city has operated the 141-acre Tarrytown golf course as a public municipal course since 1937. Over the decades the golf course has represented a pressure point between the city and university, which has long leased the space to the city but in recent years has decided to turn the course into a revenue driver, ideally through a sale of the course. Although city officials want to hold onto the course because of its history, they have said the $109.5 million asking price is too high.

Negotiations over the course have been tense. Last year, the state Legislature stepped in to create the Save Muny Historic District, which encompasses almost 12,000 properties around the course. Led by former state Sen. Kirk Watson, the district was set up as a possible tool to help raise money to preserve the course. A private entity led by local golf legend Ben Crenshaw, the Save Muny Conservancy, is also attempting to raise enough money to purchase and preserve the course.

With the fate of the course shrouded under the uncertainty of a month-to-month lease, the city has been hesitant to bring in a long-term vendor for the food and beverage concessions, which is currently served by a temporary food truck behind the clubhouse. City Council on Sept. 17 agreed to have city staff negotiate a handover over of concessions responsibilities to the historic district, who will on its own try to find a vendor.

Mary Arnold, a board member of the historic district, said the group’s takeover of the concessions carries a few benefits. The money made through concessions will not go to the city but specifically toward long-deferred maintenance at the golf course. The district will be allowed to sell Save Muny merchandise through the vendor, something not previously allowed when the city was running concessions. In picking a vendor, Arnold also said the district will be able to act quickly and subvert the city process and requirements in picking the lowest responsible bidder.

Arnold said the district does not have any money. During a Sept. 16 meeting, board members volunteered their own money to pay for the insurance costs of selecting a vendor. The group is aiming to select a vendor in October.

According to city documents, the city will be able to make periodic site checks on the concessions operations once the handover is complete.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


Photo of boarded-up Sixth Street bars
With COVID-19 projections 'bleak' through Thanksgiving, Travis County keeps bars closed

Statistical models from the University of Texas show a 92% chance the pandemic is worsening, but the increase in cases and hospitalizations have leveled off in the last few days.

Movemint Bike Cab owner David Knipp said the loss of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals during the spring festival season led to a 50% decline in revenue.  (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
'I just need to pay the rent:' Austin small businesses in survival mode are doing everything in their power to outlast the pandemic

From selling inventory to flipping their business models to changing a yoga studio into a coworking space, small business owners are trying to avoid adding their names to the growing list of locally owned Austin institutions that have shut down.

Customers can order Goodstock Angus and Goodstock Black Label beef, including ribeye steaks, strip steaks, filets and ground chuck. (Courtesy Nolan Ryan brands)
Nolan Ryan expands Round Rock-based butcher business and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Burnet Road at West Braker Lane
Corridor projects along South Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road will break ground by early 2021

Two corridor roadway projects approved in the city of Austin’s 2016 Mobility Bond are moving forward after recently receiving environmental clearances.

An "I Voted" sticker is left outside the Northwest Recreation Center in Austin, one of 37 early voting polling places open in Travis County. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than half of all Travis County voters have cast their ballots, exceeding early voting turnout percentage in 2016

More than 448,000 votes have been cast in Travis County. Early voting closes on Oct. 30.

Austin ISD trustees met Oct. 26, discussing in-person learning during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Austin ISD)
Twice as many Austin elementary students have returned to campus compared to first day of in-person instruction, district says

Austin ISD will open its campuses to accommodate all students who request in-person instruction beginning Nov. 2.

Capital Metro released new renderings Oct. 26 of its proposed Project Connect expansion, which voters will decide Nov. 3. This rendering shows a Blue Line light rail train at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Rendering courtesy Capital Metro)
In final week of early voting, here is what Austin residents should know about Project Connect

The proposition appears as a 237-word block of text near the end of the ballot but boils down to a simple question: Are voters for or against a significant expansion of local public transportation, paid for in part with property tax funds?

East West Manufacturing will retain 30 jobs and create an additional 30 new jobs for a total of 60 full-time jobs in Round Rock over five years, according to an economic incentive agreement signed Oct. 22. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Round Rock to add 60 jobs and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Gati, a new coconut milk ice cream shop run by Thai Fresh owner Jam Santichat, is now open in East Austin. (Courtesy Jam Santichat)
New Hopdoddy location, coconut milk ice cream and more East Austin business news

Several new businesses have opened in or are on their way to Central-East Austin.

Austin FC logo
Austin FC partners with Special Olympics Texas to field MLS Unified team

As Major League Soccer franchise Austin FC starts play in its upcoming season, the team will help to field a squad made up of Special Olympics Texas athletes for a series of matches.

A screen shot of Elon Musk speaking into a microphone
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirms 2021 opening for Travis County gigafactory

Musk said construction is moving apace at the new electric auto factory east of Austin.