East Austin economic development opportunities to be pitched Sept. 12

Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park A proposal to convert Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park land next to Decker Lake into golf courses stalled in May. City and county officials will meet with residents Sept. 12 to discuss alternative economic development opportunities for that side of the metro area.[/caption]

A proposal to repurpose East Austin parkland into a professional golf course facility has sparked a public request for economic development initiatives.

Officials from the city of Austin and Travis County will meet with residents at the Travis County Exposition Center at 9 a.m. Sept. 12 to discuss economic development opportunities and challenges in the eastern portion of the metro area. Forum participants include include Mayor Steve Adler, City Manager Marc Ott, District 1 Council Member Ora Houston and County Judge Sarah Eckhardt.

The input session comes after an ongoing city debate whether to lease Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park land to developers interested in building two golf courses. After months of City Council debate, the proposal was put on hold indefinitely May 21 to form a working group to more broadly consider East Austin economic development possibilities. No timetable was placed on when—or if—the golf course proposal might be reconsidered.

Austin targets pro-quality golf course Decker Lake Golf LLC has proposed a golf course at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.[/caption]

Houston, whose district includes Walter E. Long Park, initially supported the idea of converting the parkland, which has long been earmarked by the city for golf use. The Sept. 12 community forum gives the city a chance to identify short-, mid- and long-term ideas for generating economic activity and new employment opportunities, Houston said in a Sept. 9 news release.

“Historically, there have been master plans, conversations and requests; however, nothing has ever been done,” Houston said in a statement. “This time the conversation is about strategic action.”

A five-person council working group proposed the community forum following feedback from residents. The interactive three-hour meeting will include small group discussions and short presentations, according to the city.

“For too long, the needs and goals of East Austin have been ignored and marginalized,” Adler said in a statement. “This is a unique and time-sensitive opportunity for leaders to be intentional in regards to equitable development in East Austin.”

Anyone unable to attend the 9 a.m. Sept. 12 meeting can watch online at ATXN.TV and submit public comment using SpeakAustin.org or via text at 512-643-5627 or email at [email protected]

Parking at the Travis County Expo Center is free for the event.

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.