Fate of East Austin pro-quality golf course in limbo

Austin targets pro-quality golf courseA proposal to develop a PGA-quality golf course facility on currently unused parkland has been put on hold indefinitely by Austin City Council during its May 21 meeting.

Council members since October 2014 have considered whether to allow the development of a 75-acre golf course at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in East Austin. An array of postponements, public hearings and committee meetings have occurred regarding the proposal but no action was taken. Now, Mayor Steve Adler will convene a five-person working group to consider the bigger economic development picture of the property and the surrounding East Austin area.

Decker Lake Golf LLC, a private group led by East Austin resident Warren Hayes and retired PGA Tour golfer Joe Ogilvie, proposed building two “world-class, environmentally sensitive golf courses,” that would cost approximately $18 million to $25 million. The project would be privately funded and constructed—but on city parkland, causing the project to fall under scrutiny.

District 1 Council Member Ora Houston strongly supported the development in past meetings but ultimately sided with the mayor's proposal. She said the working group could spur economic development in East Austin, which has not historically been the focus of such opportunities.

District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool spoke against the proposed golf development and said the parkland should instead be preserved and open to the public.

Because the golf course would operate on city-owned land, a certain portion of the revenue would come back to Austin, according to a proposed contract between the city and developers.

No timetable was placed on when or if the Decker Lake Golf LLC proposal might come back to the council or a council committee. Adler also did not disclose when his working group might first meet.

Richard Suttle, a development lawyer representing Decker Lake Golf LLC, said the golf course project still has life, but it is possible the new working group could remove the proposal from consideration.


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