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Council approves putting Mueller substation on golf course
Friday, March 26, 2010 by Josh Rosenblatt
On Thursday, the City Council approved the construction of a long-awaited substation to distribute power to the Mueller development and surrounding neighborhoods. Under the terms of the resolution Austin Energy will use approximately 5.87 acres of the Morris Williams Golf Course on
In order to accommodate the station, the Parks and Recreation Department will have to move the course’s 14th hole and reroute a cart path. In return for the use of the land, AE will pay PARD $1.5 million to renovate the course. AE will also transfer the deed of a 4.43-acre parcel it owns on
Sonny Poole, Austin Energy’s acting manager of public involvement and real estate, told the Council that there are two major benefits to building the substation on the golf course: First, unlike the 51st Street location, which would require AE to build two transmission lines to and from the site, the golf course site would require fewer poles and would not put those poles on city streets. Second,
Austin Energy spent more than a year trying to find a location for the substation.
But not everyone was pleased with the resolution.
Stephanie Tsen, past president of the Pecan Springs Springdale Hills Neighborhood Association, said that her neighborhood association was “willing to locate the Mueller substation in our back yard as long as it’s a win for us too.” She then listed off “contingencies” that she and her association wanted added to the proposal, including: a guarantee that the proposed renovations proceed and be completed without delay; community participation in the form of a project advisory committee “for the planning and design of the substation”; connections between their neighborhood and surrounding neighborhood green spaces; sidewalks on Manor Road from Airport Boulevard to 51st Street; and a guarantee that the area around the substation will be kept clean.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez acknowledged that the Morris Williams solution was not a perfect one but said the he believed that it created a good balance between providing sorely needed (and otherwise financially untenable) improvements to a public golf course while meeting the needs of Austin Energy. He also stressed that Austin Energy substations are necessary to helping grow the entire city, not just the Mueller subdivision.
“We’re a community,” he said. “(The station and the improvements) are for everybody in
Council Member Sheryl Cole agreed, saying, “I understand the difficulty of the situation and the very, very long history that has gone into trying to locate this substation. And it’s just a result of growth. And while we may not like growth, growth means tax base, and tax base means revenue, and revenue means more parks and libraries.
“We’re getting a win for golf and a win for Austin Energy,” said Council Member Laura Morrison.
Addressing some citizens’ concerns about the aesthetic impact of the substation, Council Member Bell Spelman asked
“One hundred and ten thousand dollars aboveground,” Spelman responded, “or six to seven million dollars if you were to put them underground?”
“Okay,” said Spelman, “that’s all I need to know about that.”
With that, Mayor Lee Leffingwell proposed a friendly amendment to
Council then quickly approved a zoning proposal for the Mueller substation and two budgetary proposals related to its construction on the golf course.
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