Propositions would allow sale of portions of Rebel, Sailfish parks

In May, Lakeway residents will vote on whether Lakeway should sell two pieces of designated parkland to private citizens.

The portions of Rebel Park and Sailfish Park for sale are often submerged by Lake Travis and are largely unused by the greater community, Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said. Landowners adjacent to the parks' coves want to buy the land so they can build boat docks that go to the middle of the cove.

The special election will be held May 12 in addition to the general election.

"This doesn't require us to sell [the parkland]," Mayor Dave DeOme said of the special election. "All it is doing is giving us the flexibility to sell if we come up to an adequate agreement."

Greg Clay, one of the six adjacent landowners to Rebel Cove wanting to purchase the parkland, said the park is usually only used by people who live nearby. Under the Rebel Cove proposition, the landowners living next to Rebel Park would still be able to use the cove.

The landowners have offered to purchase Rebel Cove—appraised at $30,000—for $70,000.

Clay said the landowners wanted to offer enough money to make the deal worthwhile for the city. The sale of Rebel Cove would increase Lakeway's parkland fund by about 9 percent, Clay said.

"The concept is to sell that unusable land to raise funds for the City of Lakeway," Clay said.

In February, the four landowners adjacent to Sailfish Cove brought a similar proposal before City Council. Gloria Kressin, who spoke before council representing the four landowners, said the landowners were interested in purchasing the tract of land separating their property from Lake Travis.

The Rebel Cove and Sailfish Cove propositions will be separate ballot items in the special election. City Council has approved selling Rebel Cove, subject to voter approval. Council has not yet approved selling Sailfish Cove.

"We believe that handling both the Rebel and Sailfish park tracts in the May election is going to be the best way for the city to handle this very long-standing situation in the most expeditious manner," Kressin said.

While City Council authorized the special election for the Sailfish Cove proposition, several council members expressed concern that the four landowners had not reached out to the other landowners near the park.

Councilman Alan Tye advised the city to hold a public hearing on the Sailfish Cove proposition.

"I'd like to give the residents there an opportunity to weigh in on that," he said.

Kressin said while she understood the concerns about notifying nearby landowners, the landowners and greater community could express their opinions through voting in the election.

The landowners adjacent to Sailfish Cove have not named a price for the piece of land. Jones said he expected the deal to be similar to the one for Rebel Cove.

Unusable land?

In 1974, the Lakeway Company donated Rebel and Sailfish parks, in addition to other parkland, to the Lakeway Civic Corporation. Thirteen years later, the LCC donated the land to Lakeway.

Before approving the purchase agreement for Rebel Cove in January, DeOme and council members expressed reservations about selling any parkland.

Elsa Hopkins, a Lakeway resident who was on City Council when the city accepted the parks from the LCC, said she did not think the city should sell parts of Rebel and Sailfish parks.

"We all agreed to keep them as parks," she said.

But DeOme and City Council members said they ended up deciding that the parkland would never be widely accessible and used by the general public. In response to Hopkins, DeOme said that one City Council cannot require another City Council to take any action.

Council unanimously approved the special election authorizing the sale of Rebel Cove and Sailfish Cove.

"The more we've talked about this tonight, the more I've come to the conclusion that this is parkland because developers said it's parkland," DeOme said in January. "This has no value to the community as parkland; otherwise, we would have developed it at some point."

City ordinance requires voter approval for the sale of any parkland.